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In pictures: The children of refugee camps

By Andrew Masinde

Added 9th March 2017 10:07 AM

A stroll inside a number of refugee camps reveals the kind of life children there experience.

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A stroll inside a number of refugee camps reveals the kind of life children there experience.

Amid the displaced and desperate victims of the brutal conflict in Uganda’s northern neighbor South Sudan, thousands of children are in danger of becoming a lost generation. New Vision's journalist Andrew Masinde took a stroll around some of the refugee camps in northern Uganda and captured striking images of the children living there.

Many such chidlren are denied the joys of a typical childhood and are forced to accept this with only a handful of ways of expressing how they feel.

 

 

Several of them, fleeing the devastating conflict back home, have ended up here in Uganda – in refugee settlements, especially in northern Uganda.

 

 

But with the schools in refugee camps overwhelmed by the large numbers, on top of the language barrier problem, many children end up leading idler lifestyles in the camps. The group pictured here dig into a meal of maize meal (posho/kawunga) and beans.

 

 

In the camps, many children have made the most of their surroundings and time, playing games and scavenging around the camps just to make a living. The Mancala game (Omweso), for example, is a staple for those keen on trying to put their mind off past painful memories.

 

 

Others are more ambitious, holding dreams inside them like any other children of their age group. Take, for instance, this group pictured here. It may be an improvised ball they are using but this young group inside Bidi Bidi Refugee Camp hopes to make a football team one day. I watched them play and what a talent many are!

 

 

For the children in these camps, it's a lot of time to kill, quite frankly speaking. And while the lucky ones may attend early childhood development centres established by NGOs where they attend classes from morning to evening, others can only idle around ponderous, with nothing much to do.

 

 

It's a sluggish kind of life for many . . .

 

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. . .  many are always home-sick.

 

 

You will be sure to catch some sitting pensively under a shade on a hot day while others brave the elements by running up and about. You might find one seated alone looking rather forlorn, probably thinking about home or her future, perhaps.

 

Children are supposed to be cared for. But in refugee camps, children take care of their fellow children.

 

Uganda is now home to some 1,064,043 refugees and asylum seekers, according to the February 2017 UNHCR data base and out of these, 65% are children.

 

 

 

 

 

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