Where are the Lost Girls of Sudan?

We always hear about the Lost Boys of Sudan. We see them in major US cities. And, we can see their experience and their voice in many documentaties. I am a bit curious, what happened to the girls? Where did all the girls go? Where are the girls that made it from the gruesome and treacherous walk from Sudan to Ethophia. Where are these girls? I want to hear their voice and I want to know their stories.

IN 2003, Tara McKelvely looked at an interesting statistic that of the 3,700 young Sudanese refugees that made it to America, only 89 of them female? I do not understand this. Maybe, I could be a bit more empathetic if other statistic showed that females were sent to other countries. I have not found any data to show that this is the case.

I think about the atrocities that continue to take place in Darfur. I do not know how, any one who has experienced significant trauma, can remain in the same place (if they have the opportunity to leave). I know that so many of these women have been raped and violated 10 times over. I know that these women wish they were one of 3,611 boys that were able to leave Sudan. Why not these girls? I want to know more about the original 89 lost girls of Sudan, as well as what has happened to all the girls (now women) who did not have the chance to leave.

One of the Few Lost Girls that has now become an America.


~ by travelling womanists on October 5, 2010.

3 Responses to “Where are the Lost Girls of Sudan?”

  1. When reaching the refugee camps in Ethiopia, the unaccompanied male minors (Lost Boys) were placed in boys only areas of the camps. However, according to Sudanese culture, the girls could not be left alone and instead were placed with surviving family members or with other surviving families/adults.
    When the US resettlement program was established in 1999, part of the qualifying criteria was that the children be considered orphans in order to qualify. By that time, most of the girls had been living in the family units assigned them for 9-14 years and were no longer considered to be orphans. Therefore, they were not eligible for resettlement. However, many of the Lost Girls that did come to the US have now earned their college degrees and/or married. Some have returned to South Sudan and are working in the government of South Sudan and assisting in rebuilding their country.Hope that helps to answer your question.
    Joan Hecht <
    Founder and President
    Alliance for the Lost Boys of Sudan

    Award Winning Author
    “The Journey of the Lost Boys”

  2. According to Slate magazine, “Yet among the 3,700 young refugees who were resettled in the United States on this program, only 89 are female. The other hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of girls and young women who survived the journey are still in Kakuma Refugee Camp. Many are living with so-called foster families and are being exploited as domestic servants or worse.

    Some of the girls are beaten, raped, or sold off to older men who pay a bridal fee of between five and 50 cows to the foster family. Even on the low end, these bride prices are a fortune for the families in Kakuma Refugee Camp. * The camp has a population of 70,000 people—but only the services and resources of a town of 5,000, according to an official in the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. Diseases like cholera, typhoid, and malaria are common.

    So why are the girls facing hardship in Kakuma while the boys are living out the American dream? Blame it on a series of blunders by the UNHCR, the agency entrusted with their protection and care. When the Sudanese children first arrived in Kakuma, the boys were placed in group homes and loosely supervised by adults. Meanwhile, the girls were placed in foster families. In theory, the foster families would provide a more nurturing environment. In practice, the girls simply disappeared.

    During this time, a group of aid workers reached out to the boys through a “psycho-social program” and kept a list of those who were being counseled. The girls weren’t included—presumably, they were being cared for by their foster families. UNHCR officers later relied on the “psycho-social program” ledgers to determine who should be recommended for resettlement. That’s why only a few dozen girls were included. They were mostly sisters and cousins of the boys, who insisted they be helped.

    Still, UNHCR officials knew about the girls. In December 2000, Julianne Duncan, an anthropologist specializing in refugee children filed a report explaining in heartbreaking detail how the girls were being shafted. But UNHCR officials were distracted. In April 2001, several employees in the UNHCR office in Nairobi, Kenya, were arrested and charged with extorting money from refugees. More than 20 workers were dismissed. “The girls were back-burnered again,” said a humanitarian worker who spent four years in Kakuma.

    The State Department allocated $6 million in the 2003 fiscal year to help with resettlement programs, and part of the money was used to create a UNHCR staff position in Kakuma. The hope was that UNHCR would refer more cases, including the lost girls, but almost three years after Duncan’s report, UNHCR officials still haven’t referred any more lost girls to the State Department for resettlement.”

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