Children: the face of the Uganda refugee crisis

Children are the face of the refugee crisis in Uganda. 

Over 700,000 children represent nearly 60% of refugees in the country. Behind these staggering numbers, children with stories of terrible, life-altering events.

Most refugee children in Uganda have been exposed to war and different forms of human rights violations, including physical, sexual and other forms of violence.

Many arrived in the country alone, separated from family members and caregivers in the chaos of flight.

In refuge, many children are vulnerable different forms of exploitation and abuse.

Refugee children are not the only ones affected. In refugee-hosting districts 1.4 million Ugandan children represent 56% of the local population. Those children endure the impact of excessive demands on already-strained services.

How conflict affects children

  • Experiences during children's formative years (0 to 8 years) affects their physical and mental development.
  • Conflict causes stress and trauma, which greatly affects and--at worst--can damage children's brain development.
  • When children are uprooted from their homes and familiar surroundings, formal learning is disrupted along with protective social networks that contribute to informal learning.
  • Refugee children are often traumatized and vulnerable. Some become orphans or are separated from loved ones by conflict.
  • Often children's caregivers are children themselves, carrying a heavy burden.
  • Lack of adequate potable water and proper sanitation facilities poses health risks, and exposes children in particular to illnesses like diarrhea and cholera.
  • Conflict affects the health and nutrition of children, and pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, by disrupting services and access to proper food and water.
  • During long journeys, often on foot with little or no food and clean water, refugee children and their mothers arrive in Uganda tired, hungry and malnourished.