The number of orphans and otherwise parentless minors (aged between four and 17 years) in settlement centres including that of Palabek Ogili, Palabek Kal and Palabek Gem, all in Lamwo District, northern Uganda reached 2,000, an officer at the Association of Volunteers International Services (AVSI) told journalists recently.
Christian Communications Centre (CCC), a local non-governmental organisation has earmarked Shs350m to support children with special needs in the settlements above.
The organisation’s spokesman and project coordinator, Dr Francis Ogweng, told press a survey they did a week ago indicated that thousands of refugee children suffer without anyone to cater for their wellbeing or provide the required necessities in life.
“A shipment of eight containers is already on the way and we are just waiting for clearance from the OPM,” he explained, adding that solar lamps, beddings, cups, soap, clothing are among the items to be distributed.
According to UNICEF and UNHCR, the trauma, physical upheaval, fear and stress experienced by so many of these children account for just part of toll the crisis is exacting.
“That is why we are moving in to support them,” Dr Ogweng said.
Sources report that initially, these children were being given to foster parents to take care of them, but some parents have instead abandoned them.
“We are also in touch with some people back home in South Sudan who could be having information about these children,” Palabek Refugee Settlement commander, Mr David Wangwe said.
Elsewhere, the Palabek Ogili Sub-countychairperson, Mr Christopher Omal, told sources on Wednesday that the issue of unaccompanied children needs to be addressed immediately since they are now stealing food stuffs from the community farmlands.
UNHCR reported in May that inside South Sudan, more than 1,000 children have been killed or injured since fresh conflict erupted in 2013, while an estimated 1.14 million children have been internally displaced.
By Paul Dennis.