Children in East Africa are increasingly exposed to significant risks as a result of different kinds of disasters across the region. Millions of children are constantly on the move as political instability and conflict is increasingly driving them out of their homelands. At the moment, the region hosts the largest number of forcibly displaced persons on the African continent.
In Uganda, children, a majority of them from South Sudan have fled there after being exposed to different kinds and levels of violence, exploitation and other forms of abuse. Every month, World Vision is responding to the needs of at least 500,000 refugees in Uganda, while the threat of political instability and civil unrest in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo has forced over 80,000 people into Uganda, creating another humanitarian crisis for children.
Due to violence, children have lost their parents or guardians and have been forced to take on parenting responsibilities, and as a result, children who should be in school are forced to drop to take care of their younger siblings.
“Many children have been separated from their families and arrive unaccompanied to their new settlements. Children on the move experience violence in more extreme, more complex and potentially more damaging ways than those living in their home communities.They are in urgent need of extra protection, education and other essential services like food, water and healthcare,” Stephen Omollo, World Vision East Africa Regional Director appeals.
A report World Vision released in June titled, Girls on the Move further exposes the risks facing children. According to the report, an estimated 5 million children have been forced to flee their homelands across the East Africa region due to the devastating effects of drought, threat of famine, conflict and political unrest.
Furthermore, renewed inter-communal violence in southern Ethiopia has resulted in fresh displacements over a million people. Disease outbreaks and malnutrition rates are predicted for thousands of displaced Ethiopian children, not to mention the economic consequences of the conflict.
Also, the threat of hunger persists in the region, as communities remain food insecure. As families flee their homes due to conflict, they have left behind their lands and are no longer able to farm and produce food. In South Sudan, there is a threat of worsening food insecurity in the absence of humanitarian assistance while the current funding appeal remains unmet.
In July, several aid agencies met in Nairobi deeply concerned about the impact of underfunding for countries like Burundi and South Sudan.
“This disturbing reality should compel us all to take action, and do a better job at protecting children on the move, and ensuring we secure their future. The effects of protracted crises that children in the region are facing needs to be mitigated and every effort must be made to ensure that they are protected from increasing vulnerability,” Omollo adds.
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organisation dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.
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