Hundreds of unaccompanied children are among the 500,000 refugees now estimated to be in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. SOS Children has been getting ready to give emergency care and protection to at least 200 of them as they return near Malakal in the south where SOS Children has a Children’s Village.
Zamzam Kome, SOS Children’s emergency programme co-ordinator in South Sudan, says agreements between governments in Sudan and South Sudan could lead to an extension of the deadline until June. However, hostilities and air bombardments around the border towns are continuing and the situation is fluid.
“Meanwhile, returnees [refugees originally from South Sudan] are now in many transit centres awaiting transportation by barges, air and train to South Sudan,” says Zamzam.
In Malakal, the estimated number of refugees due to arrive varies, but at least 120,000 are expected. A South Sudanese government minister has said that he expects 14,000 refugees to also arrive by barges at the port of Juba, South Sudan, in the next two weeks, around the end of April.
SOS Children is ready to receive and identify unaccompanied children at transit shelters in both Malakal and Juba along with other NGOs. “We are establishing an office in Juba, recruiting staff and kick-starting the emergency programme which we now anticipate will take off at the beginning of next month,” says Zamzam.
Both shelters will have ‘child friendly spaces’ to provide psychosocial, recreational and learning support to the children whilst they are in our care. We will help re-trace families and reintegrate children back home and where this is not possible, and it is in the child’s best interests, they will be welcomed into SOS families at the SOS Children’s Village Malakal. Read more about how we are helping children caught up in the crisis.
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