Emergency Assistance in South Sudan: Providing children in refugee camps with necessities

As of April 30th, 34,000 people have fled South Sudan amid ongoing warfare and arrived at Kakuma Refugee Camp in the neighboring nation of Kenya. AAR is now providing support for the children in Kakuma Refugee Camp. Ryo KAKUTANI of AAR South Sudan Office reports.

Desks have finally arrived! The children were anxious to start school and helped us carry the desks to the classroom tents. (Far center: Ryo KAKUTANI, May 4th 2014)

In response to the children's pleas of "We want to go to school"

More than half the people who have escaped from South Sudan to Kakuma Refugee Camp are school-age children. A number of those children had left their parents and managed to come to the camp by themselves. The camp, however, seriously lacked school facilities to host the rapidly growing number of children. Aiming to provide an opportunity for the children to study, AAR installed 40 black boards and 30 tents strong enough to withstand harsh winds and sandstorms. We are planning to complete the installation of 500 desk and chair sets in total by the end of May.

Kakuma Refugee Camp was established in 1992, and houses approximately 140,000 refugees from neighboring countries today. There are schools for the children who cannot return to their native countries, but they are not enough. Moreover, until recently there were no schools in the newly-created sector where many of the refugees from South Sudan reside. Thanks to the aid from a global NGO, the Luther World Federation, one school finally opened on February 3rd. This new school provided a place to study for approximately 1,700 children, but more schools are required to accommodate the increasing number of children.

The Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya

The classroom tent supplied by AAR. Inside we installed new desks, chairs and blackboards. (May 9th 2014)

A student representative gave a speech at the school's handover ceremony. "A round of applause to AAR for building our school!" We received a big round of applause. (Front left: Ryo KAKUTANI, AAR May 9th 2014)

Save the children from tetanus! We are handing out 3,500 pairs of sandals.

Many of the evacuees from South Sudan do not even possess the minimum essentials. Above all, there is a severe shortage of clothing and footwear. In Kakuma, violent sand storms rage often and the temperature rises to over 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) during the day. Even in such severe conditions, these evacuees have no choice but to wear the same clothes with no footwear, leaving themselves vulnerable to skin diseases and tetanus. Aiming to improve this situation, on April 15th AAR started to hand out sandals to underage children who are not accompanied by their parents. We are scheduled to hand out 3,500 pairs of sandals by the end of May.

Which sandal fits me? Naoki UMEDA helps a child with sandal fitting. (February 15th, 2014)
*This program has been made possible through your generous donations and grants from Japan Platform (JPF).

Ryo KAKUTANI AAR South Sudan Office
After graduating from university, he worked for two and a half years as a representative at an overseas agency of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He worked at the AAR Tajikistan Office from November 2007 to March 2010. He is currently at AAR's South Sudan Kapoeda Office. He is from Hyogo Prefecture.
*Reporter profile as of the date of this article.