By Emma Mawa Okang – Adjumani District
Drichi Emmanuel in his early 20s and Komaha Beatrice live in a dilapidated grass- thatched house in block one, Boroli Refugee Settlement.
Their mother got married to another man in 2016 before uniting them with their father or any relatives since both of them were born at their mother’s home.
The two children were left in the home of their aging grandmother who could hardly provide for them.
“Mother remarried leaving us without any thing in the house and grandmother is very old. Nobody has been supporting us during corona virus period. We could have starved to death,” Komaha told Refugee Media and Migration News early this week.
She added that she ended up dropping out of school due to lack of school fees.
Like thousands of other Refugee child headed families in Uganda, these children are usually exposed to abuses such as ill treatment, rape, pregnancy, forced marriages and lack of proper care when they fall sick.
Boroli Refugee Settlement is located in Pakele Sub-County, Adjumani district. It was established in January 2014 to host south Sudanese after the 2013 violence that rocked the troubled nation.
With the alarming levels of poverty in Refugee settlements and emerging social economic challenges occasioned by disruptions of coronavirus disease, it has become more difficult for child headed families in Boroli who are struggling to make ends meet keep up with a good diet and stay healthy. The food they eat does not offer them better immunity but rather puts them at the risk of getting the coronavirus disease should they be exposed to the disease.
Boroli refugee settlement hosts hundreds of child- headed families.
Modi Felix, 17, lost his mother back then in Nimule in South Sudan to sickness before fleeing to Uganda.
At Boroli, Modi lives in hardship and is growing up as an orphan. He was forced Modi to drop out of school in order to fend for his siblings.
He ploughs gardens in exchange for food to feed his sister and two brothers.
“My aged father can not engage in serious work in order to provide us such basic necessities in life since he is deaf and dumb,” said Modi last week.
The greatest challenge for child headed families is the struggle to put food on the table. Majority of these children are young and can hardly engage in productive activities to sustain their families.
Acute poverty within these families has deprived most children access to basic necessities such as proper medication, good education and clothing.
Most of these children suffer due to broken families, bad relationships and separation due to war.
Children rights activists say children in child headed households in refugee settlements face serious threats to their right to education because of the biting poverty, difficulty in obtaining balanced diet.
UNHCR partners such as World Vision, Save the Children and the Danish Refugee Council have committed workers to monitor child-headed households and have worked with communities and child welfare groups to create foster banks, families who are willing to care for young children unable to look after themselves.
Foster parents who volunteer are vetted and sign an agreement to care for the children.
Boroli Refugee settlement hosts Refugee from Ethiopia, Burundi and South Sudan mostly.