Christian refugee kids in Sudan forced to recite Islamic prayers to receive food

Christian refugee children in Sudan are being forced to recite Islamic prayers in order to receive food in refugee camps and are not allowed to venture to other places, United Kingdom's Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need has learned from sources.

(REUTERS / James Akena)Children who fled fighting in South Sudan carry bottles on arrival at Bidi Bidi refugee's resettlement camp near the border with South Sudan, in Yumbe district, northern Uganda on December 7, 2016.

One of the sources told ACN that there were around 700,000 Christian refugees who fled persecution in South Sudan and sought refuge in Sudan. The source described how "terrible" the situation was for them inside the refugee camps they were staying in.

"We have heard stories where children are conditioned to say Islamic prayers before [being] given food. This is not right. These children are Christian. They should be respected for that," the source relayed to ACN. "They are confined in those places. They are not allowed to go further north to the cities."

Reports likewise reached ACN that said refugee families found it difficult to live off on the food from the government. They realized they had to look for additional supplies in the local market since the monthly packages given to them would last for around two weeks only.

However, ACN learned that food items from the United Nations were being sold in some places. Many of these parcels still bore the logos of UNICEF or UNHCR.

Meanwhile, Crux reported that Christian agencies and churches in Uganda have joined forces to address the South Sudanese refugee crisis. As of last month, the number of people who have fled to northern Uganda has hit the one million mark, according to the UNHCR.

Anglican Bishop Johnson Gakumba told Religion News Service that his church had been helping the 300,000 refugees in Palorinya, but the lack of resources was interfering with their work. He said they still had to meet the great need of the people.

An estimated 60 percent of the South Sudanese refugees in Uganda are children. Officials from World Vision say they are trying to identify the unaccompanied minors in the refugee camps so that they can provide them with the appropriate care and arrange for foster care.