In Ituri, violence is separating children from their families

violence in IturiFourteen year-old Salama was in class at her primary school in the Djugu territory, located in the Ituri Province, when armed men attacked her village.

“The head teacher told us to go home immediately. When I got home, nobody was there. My parents had already left,” said Salama.

The young girl continued her harrowing tale of that tragic day in February. “I saw bodies that were chopped up into pieces. I was very scared and I fled.”

Salama then followed her head teacher to Bunia, the provincial capital of Ituri. She spent eight nights sleeping outside in the court of the town’s General Hospital before being transferred to the community centre for unaccompanied children. Salama has had no news about her family since then. Every day she learns to read and write and takes part in playful activities alongside 17 other children, who are either unaccompanied or former child soldiers that are housed at the centre.

“I want to find my parents. I would also like to go back to school to study and become a teacher,” said Salama.

In the vicinity of the General Hospital, UNICEF and its partners have identified 70 unaccompanied children and 245 children separated from their families. They are placed in temporary foster homes or specialised community centres set up for the protection of children.

The children that are separated from their parents and their family run a higher risk of being victims of violence, exploitation and negligence during times of crisis. UNICEF asks all concerned parties to help protect children from violence and search for a peaceful resolution of their differences.

UNICEF and its partners’ work

Children that are placed in temporary foster homes or in supervised centres pending the completion of the process of identifying and reuniting them with their families are given access to food, basic education, health care and are cared for in order to help support their physical, mental, intellectual and emotional development.

As well as the assistance they provide unaccompanied and separated children, UNICEF and its partners distribute, via the Rapid Response to Population Movement (RRMP) programme, essential household goods to people who have been displaced by the conflict. Water reservoirs and latrines are also installed in the housing sites to give them access to water, hygiene and sanitation.

Translated from French by Atholl Simpson

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Djaounsede Madjiangar

Djaounsede Madjiangar est un Spécialiste de la Communication de l'UNICEF pour la RDC, basé à Goma. Il est convaincu que pour une vie harmonieuse dans la société, chaque enfant doit être élevé dans un esprit de paix, de dignité, de tolérance, de liberté, d’égalité, et de solidarité.

Djaounsede Madjiangarstrong is a UNICEF Communication Specialist for Eastern DRC, based in Goma. He believes that for a harmonious life in a society, every child should be raised in peace, dignity, tolerance, equality and solidarity.

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