An estimated 63% of South Sudanese refugees are minors. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi described the exodus as the “children’s refugee crisis”. According to statistics more than 75 000 unaccompanied children have escaped South Sudan in the recent years.
Below are photographs from the Bidibidi and Imvepi Refugee Camps located in Northern Uganda. Both camps are home to around 1 400 000 South Sudanese who escaped the armed conflict in their country.
Among them is Betty, who was only 16 year-old when we talked in 2017. She should read books, laugh and enjoy the beauty of a carefree childhood. But instead, her priority was to take care of her two-year old daughter.
Since the army of South Sudanese president Kiir launched attacks near her home village in the Yei River State searching for rebels, Betty and her family had been displaced multiple times.
“There were attacks on a daily basis. We were afraid our village would be next, so people decided to hide in the bush. We survived eating yams and wild fruits”, recalled Betty.
Over time her longing for normality has become unbearable.
“I was very frustrated and afraid to hear the gunshots everyday. I thought: I will either die in Sudan or I will take the risk and try to escape”, pointed out Betty.
As her father refused to leave South Sudan hoping that he could soon come back to the village of Bereka and become a farmer again, Betty joined a group of refugees determined to reach the Imvepi camp in Uganda.
“We walked for five days in the rain. But, I am happy now. I just want to take care of my baby and come back to school one day”, told me Betty.