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South Sudan, 1 January 2016: UNICEF helps separated children get home for Christmas

By Emily Poyser

© UNICEF South Sudan/2015/Poyser
Nyakuar (5) and her brother Khan (3) had not seen their parents for two years.

 
As the UN helicopter takes off, Khan, whispers to his sister that he’s scared. She replies that he’ll soon see his mother and father again, for the first time in years. Then a big smile comes across Khan’s face as he looks out the window and sees the ground moving beneath him.

Nyakuar and Khan are two of 13 children who were reunited with their families just in time for Christmas. Throughout the year, family tracing efforts and even road travel have been continually disrupted by conflict, violence and heavy rains. Even when their parents were actually located in Akobo, in the far east of the country, speaking to their parents on the phone was difficult as phone masts were often turned off for security reasons.

UNICEF, with the support of Nonviolent Peaceforce in Juba and Save the Children in Akobo, were able to make the dreams of these children and their parents Christmas wish come true. After months of searching, verifying, checking and planning with the families, these children were able to go home to their parents.

Nyakuar and Khan are two of 13 children who were reunited with their families just in time for Christmas. Throughout the year, family tracing efforts and even road travel have been continually disrupted by conflict, violence and heavy rains. Even when their parents were actually located in Akobo, in the far east of the country, speaking to their parents on the phone was difficult as phone masts were often turned off for security reasons.

© UNICEF South Sudan/2015/Poyser
Nyagoah (2) waiting to get off the UN helicopter. Her and her three brothers and sisters hadn’t seen their parents for two years.

UNICEF, with the support of Nonviolent Peaceforce in Juba and Save the Children in Akobo, were able to make the dreams of these children and their parents Christmas wish come true. After months of searching, verifying, checking and planning with the families, these children were able to go home to their parents.

Delanga’s brother said: “Today the family can be happy again. I’m thankful to everyone that made this happen.”

After two years of civil war, over 8,000 children remain separated from their families in South Sudan. But the tide is shifting.

Through the rapid family tracing and reunification programmes, UNICEF and partners, with donations from the EU, DFID, ECHO, USAID, OFDA and the Government of Japan, over 3,300 children in South Sudan have been reunified with their families since the outbreak of civil conflict two years ago. Over half of these children were reunified in the last 6 months and with the continued support from donors and partners, UNICEF will be able to bring even more families back together in 2016.

 

 
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