Interethnic violence in Ituri: what have we learnt?

situation of children in Ituri

Gianfranco Rotigliano, the new UNICEF Representative a.i. in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) went to Bunia, the capital of the Ituri Province, a few days ago to evaluate the ill-fated situation faced by an entire generation in the Province. During this visit, a press briefing with local, national and international media was organised, and we, the Young Reporters, were present. In this article, I will examine some questions related to the evolution of the situation of children in the Ituri.

The situation of children in Ituri these last months has been alarming in light of interethnic tensions that affect the Province. More than 200,000 people are displaced after the crisis in Djugu, 120,000 of which are children. Gianfranco Rotigliano declared that it was necessary to mobilise in order to welcome all these people.

Concerning the education of the displaced children, the UNICEF Representative a.i. organised the distribution of educational kits and stationery to children to facilitate their return to the classroom benches. Gianfranco Rotigliano was shocked to learn that schools here are asking for a contribution. It will be necessary to talk to the authorities about this situation which is unacceptable, given that the displaced persons left everything behind.

Educating children is simple when they are at home when support is given to families and children. For displaced children, if they do not return home, it will be necessary to envisage different solutions because the schools in Bunia find it difficult to welcome all the displaced children.

The use of children in armed groups in the Djugu territory is probable. These groups form spontaneously and often recruit young people who have yet to attain 18 years of age. These children assist with massacres and killings. They are traumatised children, and thus they are a priority. If we leave these children traumatised, and do nothing to re-establish them in normality, it is extremely bad for future generations. 70 unaccompanied children and 250 children separated from their families have been registered in Bunia and its surrounds. UNICEF is looking to integrate them into structures where they will be cared for.

The media posed many questions to the UNICEF Representative a.i. in the DRC during his work visit in the Ituri, but what I remember is that the protection of children concerns us all.

More info about the interethnic tensions in Ituri:

Written by Moise Ngabo, Young Reporter de l’Ituri

Translated from French by Darren Ou Yong

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