World Vision alarmed at staggering number of unaccompanied and separated South Sudanese child refugees in Uganda

The number South Sudanese child refugees traveling alone to seek sanctuary in neighbouring Uganda has risen to alarming levels, World Vision has warned today.

World Vision experts warn that unless the conflict in South Sudan ceases, Uganda could be home to more than 10,000 recently separated child refugees by mid-2017. The international children’s charity is registering hundreds of unaccompanied South Sudanese minors arriving daily at the world’s largest refugee settlement – Uganda’s Bidi Bidi refugee camp.

Gilbert Kamanga, World Vision Uganda Country Director, said: ‘’Everyday World Vision is registering more than 100 separated and unaccompanied minors. The majority of these children saw their parents being killed while others lost touch with their families once fighting broke out. Some of them walk for more than a week to get to Uganda, with nothing to eat.

“This is one of the worst forms of violence against children. It must stop. Peace needs to prevail in South Sudan,” he added.

Uganda has been receiving more than 2,000 refugees from South Sudan every day, 86 per cent of whom are women and children, according to international refugee body UNHCR.

World Vision is currently overseeing case management and identification of separated refugee children and unaccompanied minors at Bidi Bidi and Imvepi refugee settlements in northern Uganda. Latest projections by World Vision show that over 9,000 unaccompanied minors and separated children from South Sudan have crossed into Uganda since July 2016.

Kamanga explained: ‘’Children make up the highest percentage of new arrivals and they bear the brunt of the conflict in South Sudan. All in all, World Vision figures show that 6,057 unaccompanied minors and separated children have been registered in Bidi Bidi settlement, while 3,098 have been registered at Imvepi refugee settlement.

“This on-going influx has caused huge gaps in the areas of child protection, psychosocial support, education, peaceful coexistence and youth development programming,” he added.

Uganda, currently home to more than 890,000 refugees from South Sudan, has in the last year become host to the largest refugee settlement in the world, Bidi Bidi, with a population of 270,000 people.

Together with its partners, World Vision has been able to institute interim foster care support for more than 2,500 unaccompanied minors plus help at least 1,000 separated children re-unite with their relatives.

Carey Lodge

All images: ©2017 World Vision

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