Document Type

Article

Publication Title

Saint Louis University Public Law Review

Publication Date

2003

Abstract

Everyone knows the story of the Lost Boys of Sudan, thousands of children who lost their families and villages to brutal civil war, fleeing across East Africa to Kenya, where they survived in a desolate refugee camp. Their story spread, and several thousand of the Lost Boys were resettled in the United States. There, they asked their suburban foster families whether there were lions in the bush, learned how to use can openers and televisions, and saw snow.

While the Boys were lost -- and then found -- the Girls were forgotten. As a recent editorial in Refugees, a publication of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (“UNHRC”), notes: “[t]he story of the Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan neatly underlines the often differing problems and fortunes of refugee women and refugee men.” The civil wars which have ravaged Africa for the past ten years led to floods of refugee children. Guidelines promulgated by the UNHCR and the ICRC, in conjunction with domestic adoption law, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (“African Charter”), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (“CRC”), and the asylum policies of the United States can lead to a complicated and problematic resettlement process for such children. The system works, like too many child welfare regimes, in a patched-together, haphazard way. But it did work -- at least for the Boys. For the Girls, however, the results have been disastrous.

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