Universal Children’s Day: Make Violations Against Children History in the DRC

Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo – On Universal Children’s Day, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for children and Armed Conflict, the head of the UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the UNICEF Representative called for better protection of children affected by violence related to conflict in the DRC.

“At this critical juncture in the peace process in eastern DRC, I call on Congo and its neighbors to assume their responsibility to protect children from the consequences of a conflict that has lasted far too long.” said Ms. Zerrougui. “We have made important progress, but a lot remains to be done. We are united by the goal of making the recruitment of children, sexual violence and other grave violations against children history. ”

Ending violence against children is the central theme of this year’s celebrations surrounding Universal Children’s day. Today in Goma, the Special Representative, MONUSCO and UNICEF reiterated their commitment to support Congolese authorities to end violations and protect all children affected by violence.

“Several thousand children were released from armed groups in the past five years,” said Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of MONUSCO. “This is a statistic, but one single case of a child forced to be a combatant is a tragedy. Together, we must protect them against all forms of violence. Children belong in schools, not on battlefields.”

Universal Children’s Day is also the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The UN convention, adopted in 1989, became the first legally binding international convention to affirm human rights for all children. It specifies that every child, everywhere, has the right to survive, grow, participate and be protected from all forms of violence. The convention was further strengthened by the addition of the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, which prohibits the use of children under 18 in conflict. The Democratic Republic of Congo has ratified both the CRC and its optional protocol.

“Every child must be protected from violence. Protecting them today means investing in the future because violence undermines society. It affects well-being and prosperity. DRC cannot afford to ignore their needs,” declared Barbara Bentein, UNICEF Representative in DRC.

Violence against children is not limited to situations of war and conflict.  It happens at home, in communities, in schools, everyday and everywhere. Everyone has a responsibility to make it stop.

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For additional information, please contact:

SRSG for Children and Armed Conflict

Stephanie Tremblay
Cell : +1 917 288 5791
Email : tremblay@un.org

Unicef
Cornelia Walther
Cell: + 243 99 100 63 07
Email: cwalther@unicef.org

Monusco
Carlos Araoujo
Email: araoujo@un.org