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Meeting the challenge of large residential centres

Video featuring an emergency shelter run by Innovation Humanitarian Solutions.
My name is Zenebe Gebremedhin. I’m a child protection officer here in Endabaguna. Today we are in Endabaguna unaccompanied, separated children’s residential recreational and learning place - transit centre. In this transit centre, unaccompanied minors, after their arrival, we do the registration and identification of children who have families in the camp and children who don’t have family. And we call them separated children and unaccompanied minor children. And we provide them care and development. Like, when we say “care,” it’s about feeding programmes, shelter, and education and recreational activities. And the environment is that we create a safe environment where the children do these activities.
During their stay– the unaccompanied and separated children– here, we try to provide them emergency education where the children learn about living by oneself, living with a group, and about communication skills and decision-making skills, about children’s rights, specifically, and, generally, about human rights and about reproductive health issues. That includes about sexually transmitted disease prevention and a response part. And also we provide them information about the different alternative care– family-based care, kinship care, and foster care. And there’s a community-based child protection care in the camps. And we provide them information about the monitoring actors operating for the refugee camps and what they do and how they will access their services. And we provide them awareness-raising activities.
That includes risks of onward movement and how to prevent children as not to go through the risks of onward movement, like travelling to Sudan, Libya, and from Eritrea into Europe. And as part of psychosocial support, we provide them psychoeducation in the emergency education classrooms, where the children learn about psychological stress issues and some coping techniques or mechanisms. If we confine them, they may face difficulties, difficulties of being bored and feeling lonely. And they may suffer from, like, not moving around. So that will cause them some psychological stress. So it’s important to allow children to freely move around, do some activities. It could be play or even visiting the town. So it’s really important for their health. My name is Johannes.
I’m a child protection animator. I’m working in this as an animator for the child. This compound, it is a recreational area for the children. It is a residential compound. As I am an animator, we give the children different activities, like indoor and outdoor activities, like football. The importance of these activities for the children is to make the children happy in their stay in this compound until they transfer to the camp, and also to make an internal happiness with recreation. My name is Solomon. I’m a child protection officer and social worker of IHS. This room we are in, we call it multi-purpose hall because it’s used for different activities. One, mainly we are providing information dissemination here.
Plus, it’s a feeding centre. The children are using it as a feeding centre. Plus, we are using it for recreational activities, like drawing, dominoes, and different local and international games. They’re playing here the indoor games, mainly. They are leaving their homeland. They are separated from their families. They are coming here– it is assumed the children are coming here because they are living alone. They are longing for and missing their families. In order to recreating them, in order to refresh them, I think there are different factors that affect for the children who are coming, who are crossing the borders. They may feel different kinds of psychological problems.
In order to heal the children, we are doing different activities to refresh the children, to, simply we can say, healing of the psychological pains of the children. Those pictures are the drawings by the Eritrean children who are coming here. It has its own meaning culturally. Most of them, they are telling about onward movement or illegal immigration. This picture really is of its own meaning for children. It’s how much illegal immigration is affecting their life, or a picture of meaningful things about the effect or the problems of onward movements, generally. My name is [INAUDIBLE]. I’m working for IHS as a child protection animator. I’m focusing on the activities, like football, volleyball, racquetball, tennis, dominoes.
In order to minimise the vulnerability of the children, it is important to minimise their worries, because the children have their worries. They are separated from their families. It is important to work in a child-friendly way because when they play different activities, they develop social relations. This is the one important part of education. And when they are engaging in the emergency education, they know each other, so they develop a friendship in the compound.

It is recognised that, in many circumstances, unaccompanied and separated children are being accommodated in large unsuitable residential settings. During the development of this course, practitioners told us of the challenges they faced when trying to change these practices. This is particularly difficult in situations where there are large numbers of unaccompanied and separated children arriving on a daily basis, and/or where there is a lack of money, trained staff, and other necessary resources.

In this video we see an example of a shelter run by Innovative Humanitarian Solutions (IHS) in the district of Shire in Northern Ethiopia. Although the Refugee Children Residential Learning and Recreational Center would be classified as large, we have made this video because practitioners asked us for examples where work is being undertaken to address factors that usually classify settings as unsuitable.

This centre accommodates children who have arrived as unaccompanied and separated children from Eritrea while they are registered in the nearby UNHCR registration centre. Once registration is completed, alternative care with foster families, or reunification with family members is sought. While every effort is made to ensure children stay there no longer than 48 hours, children sometimes stay for two to three weeks while alternative care is arranged for them. IHS is also looking for ways that children could stay in family-based settings while they wait to be registered.

This is a centre that only houses children and therefore ensures they are accommodated separately from adults. IHS employs Child Protection Animators who conduct a range of child friendly activities. Attention is paid to the well-being and psychosocial care of children. As one of the Animators in the video highlights, these activities are important because the children arrive alone, lonely, frightened, missing their family, and vulnerable.

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Caring for Children Moving Alone: Protecting Unaccompanied and Separated Children

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