Ben and his wife Beatrice were forced to flee Juba, the capital of South Sudan, with their six children when fighting broke out last year. They now live in the Imvepi refugee settlement in northern Uganda, alongside 125,000 other South Sudanese refugees.
“When war broke out in South Sudan, no one expected it to happen. It is so painful,” Ben says. His home country is the youngest and one of the most fragile states in the world. Civil war has raged for years, during which hundreds of thousands of people have been killed. And as is often the case in conflict, innocent children bear the brunt of the brutality.
Uganda’s refugee settlements now provide sanctuary to more than half a million boys and girls who have fled from the horrors of South Sudan. Around 100 more terrified children arrive every day. They arrive with stories of murdered parents, emptied villages and lost loved ones and often with no adult relatives to turn to for help.
Families like Ben’s are making a huge difference. Though he and his wife have six of their own children to care for, they’ve become foster parents to five other refugee children who came to Uganda alone after their parents were killed.
Nadal*, 16, Rachael, 14, Talia, 12, Lamya, 10, and Isaac, 8, were on their way home from school for lunch as usual last year, but when they reached their house all that was left was rubble. It had been hit by a bomb, and their parents were inside.
Nadal knew there was no hope they were still alive, and afraid more bombs would come he took his brothers and sisters and fled.