NEWS – On Saturday 5 August 2017 almost 6 000 people met in front of the Saint Clément Cathedral in Kananga, capital of Kasai Central. Everybody came to listen to the message of peace delivered by the children of the Kasai Province.
Devastating conflict in a land of peace
The Governor, members of parliament, government officials, religious leaders and women’s movements came together with the people to attend the ceremonial launch of the “I’m only a child” campaign.
We as the Young Reporters of Kasai Central wanted to talk about the absence of peace which started a while ago in our Province and which has affected the lives of children.
The conflict and humanitarian crisis started in August 2016 in our Province. Yet, the Kasai had been a peaceful area for several decades. This violence brought death, the destruction of homes, the loss of property but also the displacement of people.
“A barrier to our future”
Let us talk specifically about the children who, after the conflict, enjoy limited rights.
Many children are no longer attending school. 404 schools were attacked, plundered or destroyed in Greater Kasai – 267 of these in Kasai Central only. Some children do not have healthy and balanced food or health care because 216 health care facilities were attacked, of which 102 in our Province only.
All these violations of our rights are contradictory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and create a barrier to our future !
“I would like to remind you of just one thing”
We are only children and our presence on earth is the result of your desire. We are only children and we deserve your undivided attention.
Don’t forget that we are only children and we came from you. We are only children so don’t deprive us of our rights.
What we are asking of you is simple, but necessary:
- – Give us breast milk and balanced food instead of “Tshizaba” (magic potion),
- – Give us pencils and toys instead of weapons,
- – Protect our rights instead of exposing us to the battle field,
- – Take care of us and avoid calling us names like unaccompanied children because you are supposed to support us every step of the way,
- – Let us get vaccinated and protect us from mosquito bites instead of subjecting us to magic scars,
- – Give us honest information instead of exposing us to war.
We, the children of Kasaï, say no to any form of violence and we ask that the authorities and our parents think of our future.
Remember this sentence: We are only children and we deserve all your attention.
The ‘’I’m only a child’’ campaign
In August 2016, fighting broke out in Kasai and the situation got worse in 2017, unleashing a wave of violence which now affects nine out of the country’s 26 provinces. The crisis has a devastating effect on the children.
They are injured or killed, they are the victims of sexual violence and arbitrary detention. They are recruited by militias. Because of the violence, they no longer have access to health care and thousands among them are deprived of education. The schools are destroyed, plundered and deprived of their teachers who have fled or are killed.
On 5 August 2017, UNICEF DRC announced the launch of the “I’m only a child” campaign. The aim of this campaign is to mobilise decision-makers, parents and civil society stakeholders so that they all get involved in the quest for peace and the protection of children.
Translated from French by Felix Awung
Angélique est Enfant Reporter du Kasaï-Central
Angélique is a Young Reporter from Kasai Central
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