Kinshasa/Juba (ICRC) – Fourteen children aged 10 to 16 have rejoined their families in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in South Sudan after a lengthy separation thanks to the joint efforts of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the two countries' National Red Cross Societies. The children had been in the hands of an armed group in the border area between the countries.
"We are happy that these children have finally been reunited with their relatives," said Max Furrer, an ICRC delegate based in the Congo who took part in the operation. "They went through some terrible ordeals, and some of them hadn't had any news of their families for years. After experiencing the joy of a homecoming they now have to recover their lives, which the conflicts and other violence should never have interrupted."
On 20 and 21 September, an ICRC-chartered aircraft repatriated four boys and a girl from Dungu, in the Orientale province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to three communities in South Sudan. The same aircraft was used to return nine Congolese children to their families in Ngilima, Dikuma, Ango, Dakwa and Amadi, in upper and lower Uélé, near the border with South Sudan.
The ICRC, working together with the Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the South Sudan Red Cross Society, had traced close relatives of the children in several provinces of the two countries in order to make these reunifications possible.
Reuniting families is one of the priorities of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Since the beginning of the year, the ICRC and the Congolese Red Cross have reunited 646 children with their families; since the beginning of July, the ICRC and the South Sudanese Red Cross have reunited nine children with their families.
For further information, please contact:
Yves Heller, ICRC Kinshasa, tel: +243 81 700 85 36
Adebayo Olowo-Ake, ICRC Juba, tel: +249 912 178 946 or +249 811 823 41