Refugee children want to “feel like human beings” again
In a camp where most refugees are children and many are orphans, finding happiness is easier than you think.
In Ethiopia’s Gambella region, 65 percent of refugees are children, including more than 30,000 who’ve lost both parents.
After fleeing from their homes to escape violence, these children had to complete harrowing journeys to reach safety. Dodging bullets, fighting hunger, avoiding wild animals and hiding from ruthless, sadistic human traffickers, their mere survival is miraculous.
“What keeps me going is seeing the lives of children changed from the time when they arrive to the time when you see them regularly in the child-friendly spaces”
But for Mmone, a Child Protection Officer with UNHCR Ethiopia, the best is what comes next. “What keeps me going is seeing the lives of children changed from the time when they arrive to the time when you see them regularly in the child-friendly spaces, in school…the stability you see is so fulfilling.” said Mmone.
“…the stability you see is so fulfilling”
Every day, UNHCR helps provide young refugees with safe places where they can learn and play alongside other children. And the mere fact of being able to resume what feels almost like a normal life can have powerful effects on these traumatised children.
“There was this little girl who was very excited and, for her, it was like ‘I will be able to go to school.’ And she said, ‘now we feel like human beings, and I can’t wait to be in school again.’ So that was very powerful,” remembers Mmone.
Ethiopia hosts more unaccompanied children than any other UNHCR operation, and it would not be inaccurate to call Gambella a children’s emergency within a refugee crisis.
Vulnerable, often alone and forced to grow up quickly in a foreign land, these children need your support. “The children of Gambella, the refugees from South Sudan in Gambella, should not be forgotten and it will continue to make a difference to receive support from the world.” said Mmone.
“…it will continue to make a difference to receive support from the world”
You have the power to help young refugees learn, play and heal.
More than half of all refugees and displaced persons around the world are children. In the conflict and upheaval that forces them to flee their homes, thousands of children lose their parents to violence or become separated from them and endure long journeys on their own.
In 2017, an estimated 173,800 unaccompanied and separated child refugees and asylum-seekers were reported worldwide, of whom 138,700 were assisted by 63 UNHCR operations.
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