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Halima Athumani

Kampala, Uganda
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About Halima
Halima Athumani is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Uganda, with a rich background in radio, television, and multimedia reporting. With over 13 years of experience in the field, she has made significant contributions to various international media outlets, including Voice of America's Africa desk for both radio and television, US-based National Public Radio, and as the podcast host of an ongoing war crimes trial in Sweden. Athumani's work has been featured on platforms such as SciDev.Net and she has also produced content for Public Radio International-America Abroad Media, BBC, and podcasts for the University of Cambridge.

Before her international engagements, Athumani honed her skills in local Ugandan media, working with 93.3 KFM from 2006 to 2009 and the Uganda Radio Network-News Agency from 2010 to 2014. Her foray into television journalism began in 2016 with an investigative piece titled "Uganda's Health Pyramids," which aired on Al Jazeera's People and Power, supported by Banyak Films-UK. This marked the start of her impactful storytelling through visual media, which has since included special assignments and documentaries.

Beyond her reporting, Athumani has played a crucial role as a fixer, collaborating with renowned photographers and filmmakers from National Geographic, BBC, and other international production crews from Japan and Germany. Her local production work includes "The Messenger" (2021) and a BBC documentary series on farming in Uganda (2018-2019). Athumani's journalism provides a window into the social, political, and cultural landscapes of Sub-Saharan Africa, with a focus on Uganda and Kenya. Her reporting delves into topics such as education, the illegal ivory trade, women's writing groups, and innovative health initiatives, offering a nuanced perspective on the challenges and transformations within East African communities.
Audio package (Radio / Podcast) Interview (Video / Broadcast) Vox Pop
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Museveni Slams West After US Removes Uganda From Economic Program

04 Jan 2024  |  voanews.com
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni condemned Western countries following the United States' decision to remove Uganda from an economic assistance program, AGOA, due to human rights concerns. Museveni criticized the West's oppression and manipulation, particularly in light of Uganda's recent anti-homosexuality law. The World Bank has also withdrawn funding from Uganda. Despite the economic impact, Museveni suggested leveraging the Commonwealth of Nations for economic growth, while Asuman Basalirwa, who introduced the anti-gay legislation, expressed disappointment in the West's response but acknowledged the potential repercussions of losing AGOA.

Ugandan Economists Say Country Still Investment Destination Despite US Advisory

30 Oct 2023  |  allafrica.com
Ugandan economists and officials maintain confidence in the country's economy as a viable investment destination, despite a U.S. advisory warning about corruption and the Anti-Homosexuality Act. Morrison Rwakakamba of the Uganda Investment Authority highlights Uganda's low-risk ranking by the Oxford University Center of African Economies and positive growth projections by the African Development Bank. Corti Paul Lakuma from the Economic Policy Research Centre acknowledges the importance of U.S. investments in health and education, suggesting Uganda may need to reconsider its stance on LGBTQ+ rights in light of global inclusivity trends. The World Bank has paused new loans to Uganda due to the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which contradicts its values.

Uganda: Journalists Assaulted in Uganda As Bobi Wine Returns From US

10 Oct 2023  |  allafrica.com
In Uganda, over a dozen journalists were assaulted and their equipment damaged by security agents during anti-government protests coinciding with opposition leader Robert Kyagulanyi's return from the U.S. Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, had called for the One Million March, leading to increased security measures. Journalists were barred from the airport and detained for hours, with reports of violence and equipment confiscation. The Special Forces Command denied involvement, while police admitted to arresting journalists due to identification issues and pledged to investigate the physical harm inflicted.

Journalists Assaulted in Uganda as Bobi Wine Returns From US

05 Oct 2023  |  voanews.com
Ugandan journalists were assaulted and their equipment damaged by security agents during anti-government protests as opposition leader Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, returned from the U.S. Police claimed the journalists disrupted operations at Entebbe International Airport. Wine described being humiliated and placed under house arrest upon arrival. The Special Forces Command, accused of leading the assault, denied involvement, while police admitted to arresting 14 journalists due to identification issues and pledged to investigate the physical harm inflicted.

Museveni Slams West After US Formally Removes Uganda From AGOA

05 Oct 2023  |  www.voaafrica.com
President Yoweri Museveni criticized Western countries for their oppressive tendencies following Uganda's removal from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) by the US. He urged Commonwealth lawmakers to reject Western manipulation and respect the dignity of all societies. Museveni and Asuman Basalirwa, who introduced Uganda's anti-homosexuality law, acknowledged the economic consequences but emphasized the need for Uganda to explore other markets, including Commonwealth nations and East Asia. The World Bank's withdrawal of funding and the loss of AGOA eligibility were highlighted as significant impacts on Uganda's economy.

Uganda's President Says Hundreds of Militants Killed in DRC Operation

08 Sep 2023  |  www.voanews.com
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni announced that the Uganda People's Defense Forces' operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, named Operation Shuja, has killed over 560 members of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an Islamic State-allied group, since its start in 2021. Museveni detailed the capture and surrender of ADF members, the recovery of ammunition depots, and the clearing of the Rwenzori mountains with the support of DRC President Felix Tshisekedi. Despite these efforts, Museveni acknowledged the ADF's potential to regroup and has proposed deploying local militia to prevent their return, a strategy that security analyst Asuman Bisiika views as untenable. Museveni also linked the ADF to recent bomb threats in Kampala, with six devices being safely detonated and seven arrests made. Both the British government and the U.S. Mission in Uganda have issued advisories on the continued threat of terrorist attacks in the region.

Ugandan President: Army Hampered in Fight Against Rebels Coming From DRC

14 Jul 2023  |  voanews.com
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni attributes the army's difficulties in combating the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to poor intelligence gathering. He criticizes the former DRC President Joseph Kabila for allowing the ADF to regroup and accuses them of various illegal activities. Despite the ADF's defeat in Uganda 16 years ago, they have continued to plant bombs in the country. Museveni highlights Uganda's antiterrorism capabilities and the permission granted by DRC President Felix Tshisekedi for Ugandan troops to enter the DRC to fight the ADF. The recent ADF attack on Lhubiriha Secondary School resulted in 41 deaths, prompting calls for alternative strategies to neutralize the ADF, including dialogue. Museveni emphasizes the need to empower Uganda's youth to prevent manipulation by the ADF, with the security council set to discuss options to end ADF attacks.

20 Suspected ADF Collaborators Arrested in Uganda

19 Jun 2023  |  www.voanews.com
Ugandan police have detained 20 individuals suspected of collaborating with the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) following an attack on Lhubiriha secondary school in Mpondwe Kasese district, which resulted in 42 fatalities, including 37 students. The ADF, linked to the Islamic State group, set fire to a dormitory and attacked students with machetes. The incident marks the first ADF attack on a school in 25 years, recalling a similar 1998 attack on Kichwamba National Technical Institute. The ADF has been in conflict with the Ugandan government since 1996, and its founder, Jamil Mukulu, has been imprisoned since 2015.

Biden calls Uganda's new anti-LGBTQ law 'shameful'

29 May 2023  |  www.vozdeamerica.com
Joe Biden condemned Uganda's new anti-LGBTQ law as a 'shameful' violation of human rights, highlighting an alarming trend of abuses and corruption in Uganda. The law, which includes severe penalties such as life imprisonment and the death penalty, has shocked the LGBTQ community and prompted calls for its repeal. Critics, including Amnesty International, describe the law as draconian. The law's passage has raised concerns about increased violence and discrimination against LGBTQ individuals in Uganda, with international organizations warning it could hinder efforts to combat HIV/AIDS.

A new anti-gay law in Uganda calls for life in prison for those who are convicted

29 May 2023  |  MPR News
Uganda has enacted one of the world's strictest anti-gay laws, imposing life imprisonment for homosexuality and the death penalty for 'aggravated homosexuality.' The law has faced widespread condemnation from Western governments, human rights organizations, and LGBTQ rights groups. President Biden criticized the law, suggesting it could affect U.S.-Uganda relations. The United Nations and Amnesty International have called for its repeal, while Uganda's Parliamentary Speaker praised the decision. The law has exacerbated anti-gay sentiment in Uganda, forcing many LGBTQ individuals to flee or go into hiding.

Ugandan Activists Say Future of Media Uncertain

23 May 2023  |  www.voanews.com
In Uganda, journalists face a hostile media environment with 94 documented cases of rights violations in 2022, including assault, unlawful arrests, and sexual harassment. The Human Rights Network for Journalists' 2022 Press Freedom report highlights the deteriorating democracy and rule of law impacting media practitioners. National coordinator Robert Sempala notes the prevalence of self-censorship among journalists due to fear of repercussions. Journalist Lawrence Kitatta recounts an assault by a presidential guard and subsequent threats, which have led to him fearing for his safety. The Ugandan police force is cited as the leading violator of press freedoms for the 14th consecutive year. The Uganda Human Rights Commission is working to improve interactions between security forces and citizens, and the report urges security agencies to discipline violators and calls for lifting the 2021 Facebook ban.

Uganda: One Suspect Shot, 6 Arrested - Uganda Police Seize Bomb Materials

09 May 2023  |  allafrica.com
In Uganda, a joint security operation led to the arrest of six individuals accused of constructing explosive devices in the Central Wakiso district. The police linked the suspects to online calls for a nationwide anti-government protest. One suspect, Hamidu Muyondi, was accidentally shot in the leg during the operation. The suspects are connected to symbols and hashtags used by the National Unity Party, the main opposition to President Yoweri Museveni, which denied involvement. Formal charges are pending as the investigation seeks to identify any collaborators.

Ugandan Cartoonist Highlights Poor Health Care Via Social Media

28 Apr 2023  |  voanews.com
Jimmy Spire Ssentongo, a popular Ugandan cartoonist, has initiated a social media campaign under the hashtag #UgandaHealthExhibition to expose the dire state of Uganda's health care system, including poor conditions in hospitals, understaffing, and corruption. The campaign has gained traction and support from medical professionals and the public. Uganda's Ministry of Health has responded by showcasing cleaner facilities and blocking Ssentongo's tweets. The issue was brought to parliament, where lawmakers discussed the health sector's challenges. The Ministry's spokesman, Emmanuel Ainebyoona, admitted to problems, citing insufficient funding. Ssentongo, who previously influenced road repairs through a similar campaign, is advocating for increased health care budget and better fund management.

Activists Welcome Ugandan President Calling for Review of Anti-Gay Bill

21 Apr 2023  |  www.voanews.com
Human rights activists are encouraged by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's decision to send the anti-homosexuality bill back to parliament for review, which they believe provides an opportunity to oppose its harsh punishments, including life imprisonment and the death penalty for homosexual acts. The bill's provisions have been criticized by Amnesty International and could impact the U.S. Agency for International Development's work in Uganda. Museveni has agreed to meet with the bill's proposer for amendments, while activists and organizations like the Rella Foundation see a chance for dialogue to protect the queer community in Uganda.

Uganda's LGBTQ community face anti-gay legislation, other threats

21 Apr 2023  |  www.wbur.org
Uganda's LGBTQ community is facing the threat of severe anti-gay legislation, driving many individuals into hiding and presenting them with difficult decisions regarding their future in the country.

Extreme anti-gay legislation has much of Uganda's LGBTQ community living in fear

20 Apr 2023  |  WHRO Public Media
Uganda's LGBTQ community is living in fear due to extreme anti-gay legislation. The article highlights the severe impact of these laws on the community, emphasizing the human rights violations and the social and political implications. NPR provides a detailed account of the situation, reflecting on the broader context of LGBTQ rights and legislative actions in Uganda.

‘No to Oil Drilling’: Ugandan Environmentalists to Museveni

01 Mar 2023  |  www.voaafrica.com
Uganda, in partnership with TotalEnergies and China National Offshore Oil Corporation, has begun assembling machinery for oil exploration, with plans to drill wells near Lake Albert and Murchison Falls National Park. An environmental impact report identified risks, but NEMA believes mitigation measures are sufficient. Total's Alex Male Nsereko detailed environmental precautions being taken. Uganda Wildlife Authority's Wilson Kagoro emphasized the importance of following park rules. Dickens Kamugisha of the Africa Institute for Energy Governance criticized NEMA for approving the project without clear mitigation plans.

Ugandan Activists Decry Closure of UN Human Rights Office in Uganda

10 Feb 2023  |  allafrica.com
Activists and opposition in Uganda have criticized the government's decision to close the United Nations human rights office in the country, arguing that the government is not upholding human rights as claimed. The U.N. office's mandate ended on February 9, and the government stated that national institutions and civil society are sufficient for monitoring human rights. However, activists, including Livingstone Sewanyana and opposition leader Bobi Wine, express concerns about the weakening of civil society and ongoing human rights abuses. The U.S. ambassador to Uganda, Natalie Brown, emphasized the importance of respecting human rights and holding officials accountable. The Ugandan government plans to continue cooperation with U.N. human rights officials through other channels post-closure.

Kenya: Analysts Question Viability of Proposed Ugandan Railway Link to Kenya

17 Jan 2023  |  allAfrica.com
Uganda has replaced China Harbor Engineering Company with Turkish firm Yapi Merkezi to construct a $2 billion railway line from Kampala to the Kenyan border, aiming to improve trade and travel. The switch occurred due to financial challenges and China's reluctance to finance the project post-COVID-19. A memorandum of understanding has been signed, but the contract is not yet finalized. Analysts and NGO representatives highlight the need for a strategic plan and clear procurement processes to ensure the project's economic viability, as well as the importance of coordination between Uganda and Kenya's railway systems.

Uganda's Ebola Success Forces Revamp of Vaccines Trial

23 Dec 2022  |  allafrica.com
Uganda has successfully halted an Ebola outbreak, with no new cases since November 27, leading to a necessary revamp of vaccine trials for the Sudan strain of the virus. The World Health Organization provided over 4,000 doses of trial vaccines from the Indian Serum Institute and Merck, adding to 1,000 doses from the Sabin Vaccine Institute received earlier. Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng and principal investigator Dr. Bruce Kirenga are considering alternative research designs for the trial. The WHO's Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam commended Uganda's capacity to conduct the trial, which remains valuable despite the current lack of new infections. Uganda will wait until January 10 to declare the country Ebola-free, as there is no effective vaccine for the Sudan strain, which last caused an outbreak in Uganda in 2012.

Uganda's Ebola Success Forces Revamp of Vaccines Trial

22 Dec 2022  |  www.voanews.com
Uganda has received additional doses of potential vaccines for a trial against the Sudan strain of Ebola, following a successful halt in new cases since late November. The World Health Organization provided over 4,000 doses from the Indian Serum Institute and Merck, adding to the initial 1,000 doses from the Sabin Vaccine Institute. Despite the absence of new cases, Uganda's Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng and principal investigator Dr. Bruce Kirenga are considering alternative research designs to test the vaccines' effectiveness. The trial aims to assess the vaccines' immunogenicity, efficacy, and safety. WHO's Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam emphasized the importance of the trial for future Ebola outbreaks.

Uganda: Tourists Canceling Trips Over Ebola Fears

18 Nov 2022  |  allafrica.com
Uganda's tourism sector is suffering from the Ebola outbreak, with 141 confirmed cases and 55 deaths leading to trip cancellations and postponed hotel bookings. President Yoweri Museveni reassured that Uganda remains safe for international guests, while Scovia Kyarisima of Legends Gorilla Tours reported five cancellations. The industry, which was recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic's impact, faces renewed challenges as tourists opt for other destinations like Kenya and Tanzania. The government has implemented stricter measures in the most affected districts to contain the outbreak.

Tourists Canceling Trips to Uganda Over Ebola Fears

17 Nov 2022  |  www.voanews.com
Uganda's tourism sector, which had previously suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is now facing challenges from an Ebola outbreak with 141 confirmed cases and 55 deaths. President Yoweri Museveni has addressed the nation, noting that tourists are canceling trips and postponing hotel bookings despite his reassurances of safety. The outbreak has spread to Jinja, a popular tourist destination. Scovia Kyarisima from Legends Gorilla Tours reported five cancellations, while Gessa Simplicious from the Uganda Tourism Board highlighted the industry's struggle to recover from the pandemic and the additional impact of Ebola, with neighboring countries like Kenya and Tanzania remaining unaffected.

Uganda's Health Ministry Says Ebola Cases Stabilizing

13 Nov 2022  |  allafrica.com
Uganda's Health Ministry officials, including Health Minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, have stated that Ebola cases in the country are stabilizing, with a decline in new cases observed. This follows reports of leaked documents suggesting a dire projection of up to 500 deaths by April. The government has enforced quarantines in the most affected districts, Kasanda and Mubende, and has ordered early closure of primary schools. The U.S. has contributed over $22.3 million to support Uganda's Ebola response, with Ambassador Natali Brown emphasizing the need for proper fund management. The WHO Country Representative, Yonas Tegen, has refuted dramatic projections of Ebola deaths, and the Africa CDC is conducting research to determine the source of the outbreak. Currently, Uganda reports 137 cumulative Ebola cases, 54 deaths, 16 admitted cases, 65 recoveries, and 4,147 contacts under follow-up.

Uganda, WHO to Try Two Vaccines for Rare Ebola Virus Strain

13 Oct 2022  |  allAfrica.com
Uganda and the World Health Organization are collaborating to introduce two vaccines for the Ebola Sudan virus, which has resulted in 19 deaths and 54 infections across five districts. The vaccines, developed by Oxford and Sabin, await regulatory approval in Uganda. A recent emergency meeting of ministers from 11 countries in Kampala focused on Ebola preparedness and response strategies. The WHO has allocated $2 million to support Uganda's efforts and an additional $3 million for readiness in neighboring countries. The current outbreak's epicenter is Mubende district, with one death in Kampala. The Sudan Ebola virus was first identified in 1976, with the deadliest Ugandan outbreak occurring in 2000, causing over 200 fatalities.

Uganda, WHO to Try Two Vaccines for Rare Ebola Virus Strain

12 Oct 2022  |  voanews.com
Uganda and the World Health Organization are preparing to trial two vaccines for the Ebola Sudan virus, which has caused 19 deaths and 54 infections across five districts. The vaccines, developed by Oxford and Sabin, await local approvals and are expected to arrive soon. The WHO has allocated $2 million to support Uganda's response and an additional $3 million for readiness in neighboring countries. The recent emergency meeting in Kampala with 11 countries focused on outbreak preparedness and response strategies. The WHO and Africa CDC emphasize the need for better resource prioritization and stronger health institutions.

Fourth Uganda Health Worker Dies as Ebola Spreads

05 Oct 2022  |  voanews.com
A fourth health worker, Margaret Nabisubi, has died in Uganda due to the Ebola Sudan virus, bringing the total deaths to 11 since the outbreak began in September. The Uganda Medical Association is advocating for better protective gear for health workers. The outbreak has spread to five districts, with a suspected case of the Congo Crimean strain in Amuru district. Health workers are being treated at the FortPortal specialized unit, and there is concern over the impact on the health system and the potential for more cases.

Uganda Seeks Ebola Funding Amid Exposure of 65 Health Workers

01 Oct 2022  |  www.voanews.com
The World Health Organization and Ugandan authorities are seeking nearly $18 million to contain the Ebola outbreak in Uganda for the next three months. Uganda has confirmed 35 cases and seven deaths, including the first health worker, a Tanzanian national. A total of 65 health workers have been exposed and are under quarantine. The outbreak has affected four districts, with no vaccine available for the Ebola Sudan strain. The WHO representative to Uganda, Dr. Yonas Tegegn Woldermariam, expressed concerns about the funding not covering all costs.

Outlook, Treating PTSD with canine company

11 Feb 2018  |  BBC
The article discusses the initiative taken by Francis Okello in Uganda to change the perception of dogs in the country. Unlike in many other parts of the world where dogs are commonly kept as pets, in Uganda, they are typically used as guard animals and are often feared and distrusted. Okello has introduced the nation's first therapy dog program aimed at helping individuals manage post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This innovative approach to mental health support highlights the potential benefits of animal-assisted therapy in a new cultural context.

Uganda’s Health Pyramid

22 Jun 2017  |  www.aljazeera.com
In Uganda, a country with a dire doctor-patient ratio, many citizens turn to alternative remedies. Tiens, a Chinese multi-level marketing company, targets these vulnerable populations, selling food supplements as medical treatments without evidence of efficacy. The company's business model involves recruiting distributors to invest in products with little chance of return. Undercover investigation by Halima Athumani revealed that Tiens distributors, unqualified in medicine, diagnose serious illnesses using ineffective devices and prescribe Tiens products as cures. The company's manipulative practices extend to their training sessions, where they employ psychological tactics to retain distributors. Despite the allure of wealth, many distributors, including educated individuals, fall prey to the scheme, suffering financial and psychological harm.

HIV is still a huge challenge in Uganda and this story was about how the lack of HIV drugs forced Uganda to limit treatment to patients. Story was done for Anadolu Agency

This is a feature done for Anadolu Agency about Zika Virus and its origin in Uganda after news broke out of deaths in Brazil.

Genre Uganda

16 Mar 2016  |  SoundCloud
The article discusses a visit by journalist Halima Athumani to the women's writing group Femwrite in Kampala, Uganda. The visit took place in the week leading up to the Ugandan election, and the focus of the discussion was on the candidates and the campaign. The article likely explores the perspectives and opinions of the women in the writing group regarding the political climate and their expectations or concerns about the election outcomes.

Post-Election Conversation with Femwrite in Kampala

16 Mar 2016  |  SoundCloud
The article features a conversation by journalist Halima Athumani with members of the Femwrite group in Kampala. The discussion took place shortly after the announcement of election results. Femwrite is likely a collective or organization that focuses on women's writing or issues pertaining to women in literature or the arts. The content of the conversation is not detailed in the provided text, but it can be inferred that the election results may have had an impact on the group or were of particular relevance to their interests or activities.

Corruption worsens an already devastating illegal wildlife trade in Uganda

10 Jul 2015  |  The World from PRX
The article discusses the disappearance of 1.5 tons of ivory from a Ugandan government store room, highlighting the issue of corruption within the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). The return of the UWA's executive director, Andrew Seguya, after a brief suspension is mentioned. Interpol and Enough Project analysts point to the involvement of various armed groups, including the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), in the illegal ivory trade to fund their activities. The LRA, led by Joseph Kony, is suspected of using ivory sales to support themselves. The article also touches on the challenges faced by the UWA in combating the trade and the potential complicity of some officials. It emphasizes the need for Uganda to address both internal and external factors to curb the illegal ivory trade.

Are madrassas in Africa educating or indoctrinating?

05 Nov 2014  |  The World from PRX
The article discusses the role of madrassas in Uganda and Kenya, focusing on the education of Muslim girls. In Uganda, schools like Sumaiya Girls High School offer a dual curriculum of secular studies and Islamic theology, aiming to create responsible future women. The headmaster, Sebagala Muhammed, emphasizes the importance of Islamic knowledge. In Kenya, the situation is tenser, with concerns over Islamic extremism leading to government scrutiny and raids on madrassas. The article highlights the challenges faced by Muslim educational institutions in balancing religious teachings with secular education and the need for government collaboration to prevent radicalization. It also touches on cultural issues that affect girls' education, such as early marriage, and efforts to improve access to education for girls in Muslim communities.

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