S. Sudan Civil War Causes Flood of Separated Child Refugees in Kenya
South Sudan’s ongoing civil war has caused the Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp to be flooded with people trying to escape the violence. About 36,450 people have crossed the border to Kenya, many of those children without parents the Christian Telegraph reports.
UNICEF workers refer to children who come to Kenya with a relative who is not a regular guardian as “separated.” “Unaccompanied” children cross the border without any relatives at all.
5,000 children have entered Kenya separated so far. About 750 were unaccompanied. The number of children without caregivers puts extra strain on case management workers trying to tend to children’s needs.
“This is an extremely urgent situation,” child protection specialist for UNICEF Stephanie Shanler said.
“About a third of separated or unaccompanied children need follow-up care to ensure they are safe in their new environment and are receiving appropriate support, including psychosocial support.”
“Many of these children have seen a lot of tragedy, possibly the murder of their parents or neighbours. They are holding on to a lot of trauma. We need to catch that early, and ensure that community psychosocial mechanisms are in place, as well as higher level treatment options.”
The Kakuma camp has surpassed its 150,000 person occupancy by around 16,000. Clean water and firewood is in short supply and workers are concerned that diseases will spread.
Refugees continue to flock to the camp. 71 percent of new arrivals are younger than 18. Just under a quarter of new arrivals are under under five years old.
Publication date: May 22, 2014