DR Congo

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Opportunities to Protect Conflict-Affected Children and Progress in Accountability, yet Significant Challenges Remain

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New York, 17 November 2020 – Children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo continue to be victims of the persistent conflict in the eastern part of the county, the ever-growing number of active armed groups, and challenges in ensuring accountability, despite the decrease in grave violations against them, highlights the seventh report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (1 January 2018 to 31 March 2020).

“I welcome the decrease in the overall number of violations against children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo during the period covered by the report, and I appeal to Government and armed groups to strengthen their engagement with the United Nations to end and prevent violations and to bring long-lasting and sustainable peace for all children, their families, and their communities, and hold perpetrators accountable” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba.

Persistent conflict and violence in the East, the presence of over 135 active armed groups, as well as the surge in intercommunal conflict in Ituri, South Kivu and Tanganyika provinces are significant challenges to the protection of children. Nearly 10,000 grave violations against children were committed by 58 parties to conflict. “Despite the decrease in the number of violations, I remain deeply concerned at the continuing elevated number of grave violations against children, and the lack of accountability for perpetrators” said the Special Representative. Many vulnerable children were victims of multiple violations, highlighting the compounding nature of violations. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated existing vulnerabilities and hampered the work of humanitarian and child protection actors.

Recruitment and use, rape and other forms of sexual violence, and the abduction of children were most prevalent. While armed groups remain the main perpetrators (95% of violations), sexual violence, and killing and maiming by government forces are a serious concern. In particular, sexual violence against children by Government security forces continues to be a significant and persistent issue despite the action plan signed with the United Nations in 2012.

The surrender of several armed groups allowed a record number of children (7,500) to be separated from these groups. “These children must now urgently access comprehensive, long-term, and sustainable reintegration programmes, including gender- and age-appropriate services, to allow them to rebuild their lives. The Government and donors must ensure these needs are met, including through financial support for reintegration programmes,” highlighted the Special Representative.

The United Nations has also led successful engagement with a number of armed groups to secure practical commitments to protect children, which has resulted in the release of almost 1,800 children.

The United Nations continues to support the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to institutionalize the gains of its Action Plan relating to ending and preventing the recruitment and use of children, and to further prevent all grave violations against them. “I commend the Government for its efforts to prosecute alleged perpetrators of violations against children. I encourage the Government to intensify these efforts, in particular to hold accountable those who committed rape and other forms of sexual violence” said the Special Representative. “I also congratulate the Government for persevering in its efforts to prevent the recruitment and use of children through continued engagement with the United Nations and I want to express my admiration and appreciation for the work undertaken on behalf of children by the child protection officials of the United Nations in the DRC,” she added.

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Grave Violations Against Children in the Democratic Republic of Congo (January 2018 – March 2020)

Overall number of grave violations: 9,957 grave violations

Recruitment and Use: 7,456 children

Killing and Maiming: 391 children (182 killed, 209 maimed)

Rape and Other Forms of Sexual Violence: 763 children

Attacks on Schools and Hospitals: 135 attacks (110 schools, 25 hospitals)

Abduction: 1,201 children

Denial of humanitarian access: 11 incidents

For additional information, please contact:

Nelly Sabarthes, Political Affairs Officer, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict

+1-646-709-3997 (work) / sabarthes@un.org

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