The situation of children in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has deteriorated dramatically over the past months. Children are bearing the brunt of the intensification of armed activities by a growing number of armed groups, including resurgent armed groups, particularly in North Kivu and Ituri.
“The latest increase in the number of children killed and maimed and attacks on schools and hospitals based on preliminary data is shocking,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for children and armed conflict, Virginia Gamba.
In North Kivu, intensified hostilities are exposing children to high levels of violence. Recently, the offensives of the Mouvement du 23 mars (M-23) have had grave consequences for children. The number of grave violations attributed to M-23 has increased more than twentyfold over the course of last year. “I am particularly shocked by the massacre in Kishishe and Bambo in December 2022, in which over twenty children were killed or maimed, and multiple schools were destroyed by the M-23,” she added.
In Ituri, the already dire situation is deteriorating drastically, and instances of targeted attacks against civilians, including children, are increasing. “I am horrified by the recent reports that mass graves have been found near the villages of Nyamamba and Mbogi, following attacks by Coopérative pour le développement du Congo (CODECO) on the civilian population. I am devastated that in one of the mass graves the bodies of six children were found. These as well as the continued attacks by armed groups are also reducing access for humanitarians to those in need of assistance, including children,” stressed the Special Representative.
The intensification of fighting between Mai-Mai groups, FRF Gumino, and Twigwaneho in South Kivu continues to pose serious threats to children, while the ongoing activities of armed groups are exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in the DRC with severe and long-lasting impacts on children. DRC already plays host to the highest number of internally displaced persons on the African continent, owing, in large part, to the activities of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), CODECO, Twigwaneho and Mai-Mai groups, including Mai-Mai Zaïre.
“Those responsible for atrocities against civilians, including children, must be held accountable. I welcome the efforts of the Government to hold perpetrators of grave violations against children accountable, including through the prosecutions of suspected perpetrators,” said the Special Representative.
She further calls on all armed groups to immediately cease hostilities and to adhere to the Demobilization, Disarmament, Community Recovery and Stabilization Program (P-DDRCS). “I urge all armed groups to sign action plans or unilateral commitments with the United Nations to end and prevent grave violations against children and remind those who already have such commitments to implement them fully and without delays,” she added.
Note to editors:
Year after year, the Democratic Republic of the Congo presents amongst the highest number of grave violations against children of all the countries on the children and armed conflict agenda. In the latest UN Secretary-General Annual Report on children and armed conflict covering the year 2021, the DRC was the country with the highest number of verified grave violations against children. The recruitment and use, killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, abductions, and attacks on schools and hospitals remain of particular concern with verified numbers remaining consistently high.
For additional information, please contact:
Fabienne Vinet, Communications Officer, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict
+1-917-288-5791 (mobile) / firstname.lastname@example.org
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