Taking the opportunity of a photography exhibition organised by UNICEF with the support of the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the European Union’s Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid, child reporters from Kinshasa tackled the subject of the humanitarian response to emergencies that affect children. Nathan presents here some of the interviews that he and his child reporter friends carried out.
We found that in emergency situations, children are not neglected. The government, with the help of its partners, comes to children’s aid in the event of a crisis. Together they provide children with everything required to promote their wellbeing and allow them to be content in their families.
However, concern persists because, our country, the DRC, has lived through years of wars which claim children as their victims. Many children drop out of school, become members of armed groups and forces or find themselves on the street. Others still are married too young and young girls become pregnant, putting them at risk.
Are all of the child victims of emergencies truly saved? To get the answers, we questioned the people attending the exhibition preview day.
Monica, 14 years, started by asking Yves Willemot, head of communication for UNICEF in the DRC, “What do you do to help the children living in the refugee camps? How do you combat child mortality caused by the poor living conditions in the camps?”
Yves Willemot started by reminding her that in reality the majority of displaced children live with host families rather than in the camps. As well as the aid offered to those who live in the camps, UNICEF supports these host families to help them welcome the refugees. The objective is to offer these families access to drinking water, sanitation and good nutrition.
Yves highlighted the importance of enabling displaced children to continue their studies; far from their schools, they often risk losing time which is precious to their education, if they are unable to continue studying.
“To combat child mortality, there are many important practices; using drinking water and handwashing are very important in the fight against disease. There are also vaccinations which protect children from diseases such as measles”.
“We also distribute mosquito nets impregnated with insecticide to protect children against malaria. If all of these preventive measures aren’t sufficient and a child falls ill, we ensure that they have access to the medicine and care they need,” He added.
Guy, 12 years, had the opportunity to meet the Representative of the Ministry of Gender, Family and Children, who assured him of the government’s and its partners’ efforts to reintegrate the displaced children. “We do everything to get children back into school instead of leaving them in the forest or on the street.”
As for me, I interviewed Monica, the Representative of the Ministry of Social and Humanitarian Affairs. “How does your Ministry work to help children affected by armed conflicts or natural disasters, above all in the east of the country where they are the most vulnerable.”
Her response: “We don’t work alone. In partnership with UNICEF, there is a whole programme aimed at helping the child victims of these situations. We don’t abandon them, we offer them material and psychological aid, food, medication and drinking water and we reunite them with their families or place them in host families. All of this, we have achieved with the help of our partners.”
In the name of all Congolese children, we child reporters ask the government and its partners to guarantee the lives of children in emergency situations. Let’s do everything to ensure that children are safe.
We ask that the emergency humanitarian response in the DRC continue to be financed. No child should be marginalised and the children’s rights which have been flouted during natural disasters and armed conflict should be restored.
Translated from French by Holly-Anne Whyte.
Nathan a 15 ans et il est au Collège Notre Dame du Congo à Kinshasa. Passionné de football, il joue milieu pour “organiser le jeu”. Plus tard, il veut être un avocat reconnu et travailler pour la Cour Pénale Internationale. Sa devise: “Que tous nous soyons un!”
Nathan is 15 years old. He studies at Collège Notre Dame du Congo in Kinshasa. passionate about football, he plays middle to "organize the game". He wants to become a renowned lawyer and work for the International Criminal Court. His watchword: “That we all are one”.