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Uganda, 1 August 2013: UNICEF’s innovative tracing tool helps to reunite more than 60 Congolese children with their families

KAMPALA, Thursday, 1 August, 2013 – Over 60 children, who were separated from their families as they fled into Uganda to escape fighting by the Allied Democratic Front (ADF) rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been reunited with their families, thanks to an innovative tracing and reunification tool provided by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Bundibugyo District.

UNICEF deployed the unique Rapid Family Tracing and Reunification (RapidFTR) tool in response to the sudden influx of over 66,000 Congolese nationals into Bundibugyo District, western Uganda. RapidFTR facilitates quick registration of children separated from their families and those unaccompanied by adults.

UNICEF’s implementing partners, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Save the Children in Uganda (SCiU) and Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) are using the tool on the ground in Bundibugyo. As at 30 July, 63 out of 122 unaccompanied children had been reunited with their families or relatives, while another 59 (53 boys and 6 girls) awaited reunification.

"RapidFTR is invaluable in our quest to quickly establish a child’s identity and that of their family, so that tracing and reuniting them is made much easier," said Dr. Sharad Sapra, UNICEF Representative in Uganda. "We are working very closely with ICRC, Save the Children and Red Cross and other partners to facilitate this process among the refugees from Congo," he added.

RapidFTR is a versatile, open-source mobile phone application and data storage system that helps humanitarian workers to swiftly collect, sort and share information about unaccompanied and separated children in emergency situations. Their photographs and key details are immediately accessible among humanitarian workers through mobile phones and using the shared data storage system to quickly trace and reunite children with their families. UNICEF has also trained and mentored volunteers to use RapidFTR at the Nyakabande and Ramwanja refugee settlements.

A comprehensive response

In addition, UNICEF is supporting a wide range of emergency interventions to meet the most urgent needs of the refugees. The agency has delivered supplies worth over USD 157,000, with more supplies worth USD 579,000 in the pipeline.

UNICEF has supported the local authorities and partners in Bundibugyo to immunise over 2,110 children between the ages of six months and 15 years against measles, and 1,198 children of five years or below against polio. Vitamin A supplements were provided to 1,459 children of five years or below, while 2,130 children were dewormed. The agency is supporting and has prepositioned 100,000 measles vaccines and 50,000 polio vaccines to be used as and when required.

Twenty five beds, 200 hospital blankets and pairs of bed sheets were also provided to the local health centre’s inpatient department.

UNICEF is also leading the response to provide safe water and sanitation facilities and has collaborated with the Bundibugyo district authorities and World Harvest Mission to repair a Gravity Flow Scheme (GFS) that now supplies up to 45,000 litres of water (30,000 litres at night and 15,000 during the day) to the transit centre daily, as well as servicing host communities along the pipeline. In addition to the GFS water supply, other partners are trucking in over 200,000 litres daily depending on weather conditions, as rainy days make the roads slippery, resulting in fewer trips.

UNICEF also provided 500 drums for lining drainable latrines and deployed 25 hygiene promoters to encourage life-saving good practices in the camps, especially hand-washing with soap at critical moments, such as after visiting the toilet, in an effort to avert potential sanitation-related disease outbreaks.

Six schools that hosted the initial influx of refugees were disinfected with support from UNICEF, enabling classes to resume operations on 29 July. The agency supplied 60 "School-in-a-Box" kits for up to 2,400 children to the the affected schools through the Bundibugyo District education authorities. In the Bubukwanga transit centre itself, UNICEF has provided five tents for child-friendly learning spaces and 30 early childhood development kits.

The Bundibugyo District Local Government Probation Office received over USD 11,000 to support district-level coordination of child protection and psychological support. Other supplies UNICEF has provided included 2,000 Non-Food Item kits distributed through UNHCR and the Uganda Red Cross Society; plastic tarpaulins, each providing shelter to a household with an average of six people; and three tents being used by MSF as wards for children, men and women patients.

UNICEF and other humanitarian partners responded to the emergency under overall co-ordination of the Ugandan Office of the Prime Minister and UNHCR. Other partners responding to the emergency include the Bundibugyo district local authorities, ICRC, Uganda Red Cross Society, MSF, Save the Children, Lutheran World Foundation, Oxfam, Samaritan Purse, World Harvest Mission and World Vision.

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About UNICEF

UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: http://www.unicef.org

For more information, please contact

Charles-Martin Jjuuko, Communication Specialist, UNICEF Kampala; +256 417 171 111; cjjuuko@unicef.org

 

 
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