First Covid, now Ebola – Finnish Refugee Council supports refugees


In 2020, Uganda like the rest of the world was negatively impacted by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although Uganda was commended as one of the countries which reported a low rate of mortality related to the virus, nonetheless, preventive measures were put in place including instituting a total lockdown on the economy.

The lockdown negatively impacted the economy, there was a reported slowdown in the growth of the economy. However, much as the nationals were grappling with the pandemic’s effects, there was a group more disadvantaged by it. The World Bank reported that there was a 3% increase in the poverty rates among refugees from 47% pre-COVID to 50%.

As the economy struggled to pick, up in September 2022, almost 10 months after the Ugandan economy was completely opened following a reduction in the cases of the COVID-19 Virus. Uganda’s Ministry of Health reported an outbreak of another deadly disease – Ebola.

The disease which has a 50% mortality rate was first confirmed in the district of Mubende. Since then, more cases have been reported in neighboring districts. Data from UNHCR indicates that 4 refugee settlements located in the southwestern part of Uganda are at considerable risk of the virus. The Ministry of Health has also tagged areas with a high influx of DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) refugees as hot spots for the virus.

FRC’s Response to the Ebola Outbreak

When such outbreaks occur, the ones most affected are the refugees, who have already been struggling to crawl out of the prevalent poverty imposed by the COVID-19 virus. FRC has included in her newly adopted literacy curriculum section on health issues, and among them spread of various diseases, their symptoms and prevention and the volunteer learning instructors are very familiar with these topics and able to act as educators in their communities. At the early stages of Covid-19 in Uganda, the organization trained during 2-month period in 2020 about 20,000 persons.

When the Ebola outbreak was announced in September 2022 in Uganda, the FRC embarked on a similar awareness raising campaign for the learning groups across the 13 settlements, targeting to reach estimated 40–50 000 persons.

Part of the sensitization includes;

  • Introducing Ebola preventive measures in the 2 300 learning groups of literacy, English, financial literacy or business skills in the field.
  • Providing accurate information about the disease to avoid rumors and false news circulating among the communities.
  • Encouraging hand washing and social distancing during lessons.
  • Prominent display of Ebola preventive infographics provided by partners such as UNHCR at all field offices.
  • Tracking temperatures of all those who walk into any of the FRC offices.

Although the Ebola outbreak is not to be dismissed, as an organization FRC will continue to serve those within its mandate while monitoring the situation and ensuring a strong adherence to the set preventive measures.