On June 16 the world commemorated the Day of the African Child. In Uganda, one of the radio stations, Monitor’s KfM 93.3 hosted four refugee children, two from South Sudan and two from Burundi.
These four children, two boys and two girls, gave a chilling account of what as refugees they endure on a daily basis, and what they talked about reflects what hundreds of thousands of their colleagues across Africa experience.
The recent events in both Burundi and South Sudan need no introduction; they are common knowledge for most people in the East African region.
The stalemate in Burundi caused by the unwavering efforts of Pierre Nkurunziza to hold onto the presidency of his country and the raging supremacy battles in South Sudan between President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his nemesis, former Vice President Riek Machar Teng, have led to untold suffering of people in both countries, mostly the young children and women.
It is pertinent to note that in any conflict situation, it is these two categories that suffer most, with the women and young girls facing gross atrocities such as rape, defilement or even outright death at the hands of the marauding belligerent groups.
But even the boys are not that safe: early this month it was reported that troops from Chad and Equatorial Guinea, on peacekeeping duty in the restive Central Africa Republic, had ‘feasted’ on young boys. It was also reported that French peacekeepers in the same troubled country had had oral sex with hungry refugee boys, luring them with food rations in exchange.
Unfortunately, months later nothing has come out of the investigations ordered by the French government, with prevarication rotating around ‘lack of evidence’. And this is where part of the problem lies; how can you get evidence when you even do not look out for the victims to give an account of the despicable acts committed against them? Or, why do you have to wait until their parents run to the media for you to resuscitate the so-called investigations? No one seems to care about these vulnerable people; we just continue living as if there is nothing wrong!
The above-mentioned revelations of sexual indecency against refugee children appear like isolated cases, but the reverse is true; cruel acts against these hapless refugees are rampant and must stop.
Indeed, Africa’s children must be secure and it is our duty to ensure their future.