The two agencies, in a joint statement, said a total of 12,809 separated and unaccompanied children have been registered by UNICEF partners, led by Save the Children, since the conflict in South Sudan began in December 2013.
“Efforts are ongoing to trace the families of the more than 8,000 children still separated from their caregivers so that they too can be reunited,” partly reads the statement.
Describing the process of uniting the children with their families as costly and challenging, due poor infrastructure, the agencies said Family Tracing and Reunification (FTR) staff have to trek for hours to look for separated families.
“FTR is a complex multi-agency system to identify, register, reunify and follow up on separated children, which can take between six to eight months on average. On days like today, we feel that all the hard work we put into saving children’s lives has paid off,” said Peter Walsh, Save the Children’s Country Director in South Sudan.
Meanwhile, with funding and technical assistance from UNICEF, Save the Children South Sudan is reportedly the lead agency in national family tracing and reunification.
”The best place for every child is with its family,” Vedasto Nsanzugwanko, UNICEF’s Chief of Child Protection.
“Reuniting 4,000 children with their caregivers is a great achievement but we’re concerned that due to a significant funding shortfall moments like these may become more difficult to achieve in the future,” added the official.