On the 4th April 2019, Save the Children in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) launched their ‘Protection of Children living in Conflict’ report. This report showcased the findings from various consultations held with children across North and South Kivu, Kasai Oriental, Ituri & Lomami provinces. During these consultations, children explained what their priority needs were in terms of education, food, health care and protection. The report was then presented during a high-level round table event with several stakeholders- including the Ministry of Education, the National Nutrition Program, Unicef, the Civil Society, as well as the Children's Parliament of Kinshasa. The resulting discussions focused on mapping out the action points that the Government of DRC must now prioritise in order to fulfil the rights of children living in conflict zones.
CONFLICT IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
Did you know that more than 142 million children live in high-intensity conflict zones in the world. Not only is that, but the Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the ten countries where children are most affected by conflict. The DRC has experienced decades of political and social instability, but in addition to this, many crises such Ebola and Cholera epidemics, as well as the displacement of population, are linked to natural conditions. The resulting factors have created a difficult environment across the country, and sadly, children are the first to be victims to it. The consequences are disastrous, and ultimately, they deprive children of their most fundamental rights.
CHILDREN IN CONFLICT
Many decades ago, Eglantyne Jebb, the founder of Save the children, claimed that ‘Any war, is a war against children'. Even today, this quote is profoundly relevant, especially to children facing the consequences of conflict in DRC. Today we are witnessing the deprivation of children in all its forms in DRC- children are being deprived of schools, sustenance and they are being exposed to various forms of violence- including sexual abuse, enrolment in armed groups and child labour.
Kiviera*, a 13-year-old child in Kitchanga tells us "many children no longer go to school; (when their) parents died during an armed conflict, (they) end up being street children or joining armed groups.”
Out of the list of the needs of these children, it becomes clear that first priority must be given to education. This is shown in the testimony of children aged 7 to 12 in North Kivu, who tell us "Sometimes we try to go to school even if we have not paid tuition, but the teachers send us back home, and at home our parents have no money. So we try to gain money by ourselves, but it's hard to earn enough!”
WHAT THIS REPORT AIMS TO ACHIEVE
The main objective of this report was to highlight the situation of children who are living with the consequences of conflict in DRC. By putting a spotlight on the overall struggle and deprivation of these children, we can present concrete evidence to high level decision-makers and the government of DRC. This will enable them to then make concrete resolutions for these children and put an end to their suffering and abuse.
At the start of the launching ceremony, which saw the participation of several influencers, the participations unanimously welcomed the approach. We are happy to see how they have fully embraced our historic commitment, and are joining us in our movement to ensure that every last child can survive, learn and be protected in the Democratic Republic of Congo.