Still no peace for children in eastern DRC

War Child: Child protection should be high on the new UN intervention brigade’s agenda

Amsterdam,11th of July 2013 - With the special UN Intervention Brigade starting patrols this month, War Child calls on the UN to ensure that the new force prioritises the protection of children and assist with the release of child soldiers associated with armed groups operating in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In an updated briefing paper the organisation also states that it is essential that all members of the Intervention Brigade receive high-level training in child protection prior to their deployment. The soldiers will encounter cases of rape, recruitment and neglect, and must be able to handle these situations appropriately.

The special UN brigade came into being after a peace deal signed in February in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and is tasked with carrying out offensive operations against armed groups in order to prevent further human rights violations and ensure the protection of the civilian population.

Children central victims
Since the publication of War Child’s report “Lost Childhoods: the continuing conflict in the Kivu’s provinces” in November 2012, the situation facing children in eastern DRC has failed to improve. Violence and unrest continue in both North and South Kivu. This includes attacks on villages, looting, killings and sexual violence. Children make up 50 percent of the population: They have been, and remain, the central victims of the continued instability.

Juliette contracted malaria when she went into hiding after her village was ransacked. She explains, “We heard gunfire and explosions in the soldiers’ camp at the top of the hill. In the village there was panic. Together with my parents, my brothers and my sisters, we packed our stuff and we fled into the woods. This is the fourth time I've fled. I'm scared, and I have many nightmares. I just want this war to stop. I want to study.”

Please find the briefing paper attached.

For more information contact: Mieke Wouters, press officer of War Child, +31-648 13 97 66 |  War Child’s Country Director in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is available for interviews. More images and film material, including portraits of children facing the continuing violence and unrest, are also available upon request.