photo of Emily Everett & familyCongratulations to Emily Everett, winner of the Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (CARFMS) 2021 essay contest.  Her research topic is “Unaccompanied and Separated Refugee Children in Uganda: Community Based Child Protection Mechanisms.”

“After studying part-time for ten years as I switched universities, travelled, worked, and had children, I finally graduated this past winter with a Combined Honours in African Studies & Poli Sci with a concentration in International Relations. I had the unique privilege of completing my degree remotely while living in Uganda in 2019 and 2020 as our family went through the international adoption process of our eldest daughter. While living in Uganda, I completed an internship under the supervision of Professor Bokore, an HRE under the supervision of Professor Milner, and then, when the pandemic hit and classes were offered online, International Politics of Forced Migration with PhD Candidate, Blake Barkey, where I wrote the paper for which I would rank first place for the (CARFMS) 2020 Student Essay Contest in the Undergraduate category. I’m incredibly grateful to them all for supporting me through my learning journey.

The topic of this paper came at the intersection of my academic interests with my personal life. While living in Kampala, my neighbour, a humanitarian photographer, came home shaken after an assignment in a refugee settlement in Southwestern Uganda. She had witnessed three siblings registering with the UNHCR who had escaped conflict in the DRC and didn’t know where their parents were. It was then I began to learn about the staggering number of unaccompanied and separated children (UASC) in Uganda––over 40,000––more than anywhere else in the world. This statistic hit particularly close because our daughter, then foster child, had spent a good portion of her life living in South Sudan during the civil war. She could have easily been part of that statistic. I began to dive deep into my research about the issue of UASC.

It wasn’t long before I recognized that weak capacity at every level of formal governance of child protection within the UNHCR and in Uganda exacerbated protection risks for unaccompanied and separated refugee children. And yet, there was a startling lack of research about the efficacy of community-based child protection mechanisms amongst refugees. This interest drove my research question and led me to apply lessons learned from case studies in other settings to the context of the refugee child protection regime for UASC in Uganda. I believe this is an incredibly important area of study and hope to see further developments in future research.

Since graduating from Carleton, I have begun work at an NGO that supports indigenous communities in North and remote regions of Canada. While the focus of my work is some 60° north of where much of my academic research has been focused, my research on community-based and community-led programming influences everything I do. My studies may be paused for now, however, I am strongly considering going to law school with a dream of working in the legal profession in the area of international child protection.”

Emily Everett