An emergency nutrition and education response to the refugee crisis in Uganda by the UN Children’s Agency-UNICEF has received a boost of 8 Billion Shillings thanks to the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).
More than 950,000 refugees have crossed into Uganda since the start of the conflict in from South Sudan in December 2013, driving the refugee population in Uganda to 1.3 million people. At least 750,000 of these arrived after July 2016.
“With over 2,000 South Sudanese refugees arriving in Uganda every day, Uganda is now host to the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world,” Isabelle D’Haudt, ECHO’s Humanitarian Advisor for Uganda said in a statement issued this morning.
The ECHO contribution will enable UNICEF to provide nutritional screening for all children at refugee entry points, appropriate treatment and care for severely malnourished children, Vitamin A micro-nutrients and deworming medicine for children, and iron/folate supplementation to pregnant and breastfeeding women. The nutrition intervention is estimated to reach nearly 200,000 beneficiaries.
A recent food security and nutrition assessment conducted in the refugee hosting districts shows high malnutrition rates, stunted development due to chronic malnutrition and high levels of anemia among children and women.
Similarly, in the education sector, in both early childhood development (ECD) centers and primary schools, there are vast needs ranging from inadequate classrooms, teaching materials and latrines, among other needs.
“Considering 60 percent of all South Sudanese refugees in Uganda are under the age of 18 and 56 percent of the population in all South Sudanese refugee-hosting districts in the country are children, children are the face of the South Sudanese refugee crisis in Uganda,” Aida Girma, UNICEF’s Representative in Uganda said.
For education, UNICEF will construct seven new ECD centres as well as upgrade 15 ECD centres from a temporary to semi-permanent state, which will provide multi-sectorial quality early childhood development to around 5,000 young children.
As at May 2017, UNICEF’s response to South Sudanese refugees and host communities in Uganda has supported more than 135,000 children with vaccinations against measles, over 70,000 children with vaccinations against polio, nearly 185,000 people with clean water and 9,000 severely malnourished children with therapeutic feeding treatment.
More than 12,000 children who have been separated from their parents and families have been supported with family tracing and reunification services, while another 85,000, children and adolescents have had an opportunity to access education and nearly 50,000 young children to access critical Early Childhood Development services.