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South Sudan: Unaccompanied children begin to arrive at SOS Shelters

Children begin to arrive at the SOS Emergency Centres
Children begin to arrive at the SOS Emergency Centres

As the first planes taking South Sudanese living in Sudan to the South Sudan capital of Juba began to land last week, we have been stepping up our facilities in the country to provide unaccompanied children with basic services including food, water, and healthcare.

As a result of ongoing conflict between the two countries, earlier this year, the Sudanese government declared that all South Sudanese living in their country must leave and return south. Hundreds of unaccompanied children are amongst the 500,000 refugees estimated to be travelling to South Sudan.

According to the International Organization for Migration, a further 17,000 refugees, including many unaccompanied children, are currently living in four transit camps in Renk, a town in South Sudan’s northeast, near the border with Sudan. They are expected to be transported from Renk to other destinations within South Sudan including Juba and Malakal in the coming week.

Zamzam Kome, SOS Children Emergency Relief Programme Coordinator, says the cost of living in South Sudan has increased three-fold and conditions are likely to worsen as the country struggles to cope with the influx of refugees. Fuel is scarce, resulting in disrupted public transportation in Juba. Public electricity is unavailable and businesses and homes are forced to rely on costly generators. “Life in Juba is generally very expensive and difficult,” says Zamzam.

As the first groups of evacuees arrive, SOS Children are ready to receive and identify unaccompanied children at transit shelters in both Malakal and Juba along with other NGOs. Both shelters 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.

SOS Children are currently meeting with South Sudan’s Ministry of Gender and Social Services and other child protection groups to discuss ways in which they can partner to protect even more children.

How you can help

You can make a one-off donation to South Sudan emergency relief or a regular donation to our emergency relief work around the world.

You can also take out a child sponsorship to help us to focus on the long-term welfare of children who have no one to care for them as a result.