Ottawa, 17 September 2017, Vision GRAM-International expresses concern about the future of the children in D R Congo and believes that education is a right for every child, but those of the D R Congo have serious problems of schooling due to armed conflicts, according to watchlist, where grave violations against children in the context of the fighting have been reported. Vision GRAM- International urges the authorities of D R Congo to ensure that all children return to school in security and that school facilities are protected against armed attacks.
Vision GRAM-International support the campaign launched by Unicef to help 150,000 children to return to school, and recalled that pen should replace gun in D R Congo and that efforts should be made to ensure that the rights of the children to education are respected.
As school year begins, UNICEF and partners launch campaign to help 150,000 children return to school
KINSHASA/DAKAR/GENEVA/NEW YORK, 15 September 2017 – A large campaign to get 150,000 primary school-aged children back to the classroom has kicked off in the volatile Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) following months of clashes between militias and security forces that have displaced thousands of families and left 850,000 children without access to essential services like education and healthcare.
UNICEF estimates that in the five provinces hit hardest by the crisis – Kasai, Kasai Central, Kasai Oriental, Sankuru and Lomami – 440,000 children were prevented from finishing the previous school year because of insecurity. Since the start of the crisis, more than 400 schools have been attacked, and the fear of violence means that parents are reluctant to send their children to school.
“It is crucial for children to return to school to restore a sense of normalcy in their lives after months of fear and uncertainty,” said Dr Tajudeen Oyewale, Acting Representative of UNICEF in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The back-to-school campaign carried out by UNICEF and it partners across the Kasai region includes communication activities encouraging parents to enroll their children, distribution of school material for the most vulnerable children and training for 2,750 teachers in peace-education and psychosocial support.
In order to create a safe return to school, UNICEF supported the training of teachers and conducted awareness raising of communities on risks related to mines and war remnants in the school environment.The violence that started a year ago has expanded throughout the Kasai region and even beyond, forcing thousands of children and their families to flee into the bush to escape the fighting.
“Children who have returned home after hiding for months all speak of their eagerness to be back in school,” said Oyewale. “The same goes for all the children who have been compelled to take part in the hostilities in one way or another. They are looking to the future, and they know education is a way forward.”
On August 21 and 22, 2017, Watchlist hosted its civil society partner from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in New York. Simon Kangeta, the Executive Director of the Association des Jeunes pour la Développement Intégré-Kalundu (AJEDI-Ka), met with Watchlist staff and briefed New York-based diplomats on the current situation of children in Eastern DRC.
Given recent international focus on violence in the Kasai Province, the visit provided an important opportunity to draw attention to the situation in DRC’s South Kivu Province. In late June and early July 2017, fighting between Congolese Government forces and the Coalition Nationale du Peuple pour la Souveraineté du Congo (CNPSC) resulted in the forced displacement of thousands of civilians.
Grave violations against children in the context of the fighting have been reported. An inter-cluster mission to the Kimbi area in July 2017 documented reports of rape and sexual violence by both parties, recruitment and use of children by the CNPSC, and the alleged occupation of at least one school by the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC). Moreover, insecurity caused by the fighting resulted in restrictions on the movement of humanitarian actors, disrupting the delivery of much-needed assistance.