Hundreds of children across Kenya's second largest refugee camp, Kakuma, have celebrated the International Day of the African Child (DAC). The event, initiated by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) has been celebrated on 16 June every year since 1991. Held to raise awareness of the need for improvement of the education provided to African children, DAC 2016 was celebrated under the theme " Conflict and Crisis in Africa: Protecting all Children's Rights".

Day of the African Child 2016
Two boys walk past a poster advertising the Day of the African Child in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya on 17 June 2016Elsa Buchanan for IBTimes UK
Day of the African Child 2016
A little girl and her brother, who live in the Safe Haven protection area of Kakuma refugee camp, pose for a photo during the day's event on 17 June 2016Elsa Buchanan for IBTimes UK

Almost 80% of Africa's refugees are women, and their children. An estimated 500 million children worldwide are directly affected by crises such as armed conflicts, natural disasters and disease outbreaks.

Day of the African Child 2016
Two young boys from the safe houses watch as the celebrations are underway in their compound at Kakuma refugee camp on 17 June 2016Elsa Buchanan for IBTimes UK

Children living within the camp's protection area, however, celebrated the special day on 17 June. For many attending, that day has a very special meaning: they found protection after their rights were violated. When women become refugees, they become vulnerable to issues such as domestic abuse, rape, and forced marriage.

Day of the African Child 2016
A young boy who lives in the Amani protection centre for boys because of fears he could be attacked or killed due to his albinism, puts on a show during the Day of the African Child on 17 June 2016Elsa Buchanan for IBTimes UK

Known as Safe Haven, the protection area is run by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). It shelters displaced female refugees and girls – mostly from Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia – who have been or are at risk of sexual and gender-based violence. Some of the girls here have faced child marriage or are unaccompanied minors who have become mothers due to rape.

Day of the African Child 2016
Children dance during the Day of the African Child in Kakuma refugee camp on 17 June 2016Elsa Buchanan for IBTimes UK

Other girls have been referred to by various agencies working in the 190,000-strong camp, after being mistreated by their parents or relatives.

Rose, a centre leader, told IBTimes UK: "As refugees, they think they don't have a say, but they are very vulnerable, facing very different problems. They fear of being released into the community."

Day of the African Child 2016
Young girls from the Safe Haven protection centre perform Acholi dances in Kakuma refugee camp on 17 June 2016Elsa Buchanan for IBTimes UK

Across two centres, 51 beneficiaries are provided with food and shelter, counselling, vocational training such as tailoring and education. When the girls reach 18, they can decide whether they would prefer to be integrated in the community, resettled or stay in the centre.

Sarah, one of the Safe Haven leaders, said that, by the time the girls leave the centre, they are educated, self-sufficient and know about their rights.

Day of the African Child 2016
A child poses for a photo after having his face painted during the Day of the African Child in Kakuma refugee camp on 17 June 2016Elsa Buchanan for IBTimes UK

After a speech by coordinator Felix Ftieno, girls from Safe Haven performed Acholi dances and songs.

Day of the African Child 2016
Girls from Safe Haven perform Acholi dances in front of guests in Kakuma refugee camp on 16 June 2016Elsa Buchanan for IBTimes UK

A young girl from Safe Haven, in a bright attire, chose to recite a poem – African Child.

Day of the African Child 2016
A young girl from Safe Haven  during the celebrations at Kakuma refugee camp on 17 June 2016Elsa Buchanan for IBTimes UK

"African child, I have come from a poor family, I have become an orphan because of war. African child, I have become a refugee in Kakuma, living in difficult situations. African child, I need education, not only basic education but higher education, so that tomorrow my life will change, and I can help my African continent."

Day of the African Child 2016
Two girls from the safe house watch as a group of young girls performs at Kakuma refugee camp on 17 June 2016Elsa Buchanan for IBTimes UK

Also attending the event were a dozen boys living in the Amani centre – a safe house for young boys with protection concerns at the camp.

Day of the African Child 2016
A young boy raps during the celebrations held in Kakuma refugee camp on 17 JuneElsa Buchanan for IBTimes UK

After rapping in front of guests, a group of boys also recited a poem entitled A Story To Tell.

"I have a story, a story to tell. A real story that I need to share with the people who care. With those who are here. I have a story, a story to tell. A real story that I need to share. My sister was raped, my parents were killed because of war. All the beating, brutality, immunity, self-hatred, loss of identity and insecurity. I came all the way, miles away, looking for shelter, for support and care. But who will be near our problem to share? Make me secure. We came all the way, miles away, looking for shelter, for support and care. We need protection and education. But who will be near our problem to share? To make us secure. Our story was sad, but now we have a reason to smile, we have a place to call home. Thank you, we are accompanied, not forgotten, and safe."

Day of the African Child 2016
Young refugees draw on the soil as they attend the Day of the African Child on 16 June 2016Elsa Buchanan for IBTimes UK

World Refugee Day 2016, meanwhile, will be held on 19 June.