Children fight for survival as number of South Sudanese Refugees in Uganda hits the One million mark.

Friday 18 August 2017

KAMPALA, 18th AUGUST, 2017 – As the number of South Sudanese refugees in Uganda hits the one million mark, Save the Children is deeply concerned about the plight of children in displacement and resettlement sites across the country. Over 600,000 children require sustained humanitarian assistance to survive and continued access to education and psychosocial support.

In a report released earlier in the year, Save the Children warned of the risk of refugee South Sudanese children missing out on education at this critical time in their lives. Inadequate funding for education coupled with challenges in accessing food, water and basic nutrition make the situation for refugee children desperate.

Children from South Sudan are also grappling with trauma from the conflict and separation from parents and loved ones. Through the report, Save the Children shared a detailed plan to restore hope, and rebuild futures for the refugee children of South Sudan in Uganda, through education. While at the same time, strengthening the support systems for refugee host communities, who are in great need as well.

“Children face many risks both on the way to Uganda and in the refugee settlements. They need protection and psychosocial support, as well as health services and education. The current response is dramatically underfunded and requires integrated planning to ensure education for all refugee children,” says Brechtje van Lith, Save the Children’s Country Director in Uganda.

Fighting broke out in Juba, South Sudan’s capital in July 2016 and has continued to force thousands of people out of the young country. These have sought refuge in neighbouring Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya, citing insecurity, indiscriminate killing, sexual violence, looting of property and livestock and famine as reasons for flight. The majority of those fleeing have been women and children, with separated and unaccompanied children recorded in high numbers.

Uganda is hosting the refugees in resettlement camps spread across the West Nile region of the country, and has this month opened the latest such camp, Omugo, in Arua district. Currently, Uganda hosts close to 1.5 million refugees – over 1 million from South Sudan alone with others hailing from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and Burundi.

Despite the pressure of this unprecedented influx, Uganda has maintained its refugee welcoming policy, keeping its borders open and continuing to provide refugees with land, shelter, freedom of movement and access to services. The numbers of refugees are overwhelming and show little sign of abating.

To address this, the international community must redouble efforts to facilitate a peaceful resolution to the crisis in South Sudan. There should be increased support and resourcing to the effective implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees and the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, sharing responsibilities and meeting the needs of host and displaced communities.  Critically, while ensuring that refugee children continue to have access to basic services, it is vital that they also continue with their education and are supported to overcome the psychosocial effects of conflict and displacement.

Save the Children’s response to the South Sudanese refugee crisis

Save the Children supports family tracing and reunification, seeking to reunite children with family members they have been separated from. Save the Children also finds foster parents for the children who've fled to Uganda on their own. In addition, Save the Children runs child-friendly spaces in the settlements, so children have a safe place to play, and to ensure our child protection teams can monitor their well-being and help them recover a sense of normalcy. Save the Children offers early childhood care and development for young children (3-6 years of age), as well as catch-up education classes for children who have dropped out of primary school, to ensure children are engaged in education and connect them to livelihood opportunities. Save the Children also runs health clinics and nutrition programmes.

For more information, please contact:

Sylvia Nabanoba, Communications Manager, on sylvia.nabanoba@savethechildren.org or +256785 188750