Hoping that better days are not too far away

We, children from North Kivu, Katanga and Kinshasa Provinces, took part in a workshop on the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) for six serious violations carried out on children during armed conflict. The workshop took place in Kinshasa from 23 to 27 July.

In 2003, the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) were recorded on the list of those responsible for the recruitment of children.

In 2011, the FARDC were also added to the list of those responsible for sexual violence against children. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo)’s army is therefore on the UN black list because of the parties involved in the conflict raging in DR Congo who commit serious violations of children’s rights.

In this regard, the Congolese authorities adopted an Action Plan in 2012 to officially implement the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1612 in order to set up the MRM on the six serious violations carried out on children during armed conflict. Although the authorities had already taken steps to confront the problem as of 2006, this Action Plan brought the measures in line with the United Nations actions.

We have seized this opportunity to make our voices heard, to make the authorities see that we are the future and that tomorrow should be prepared for today because with preparation comes success.

Take the example of Fred, a child recruited by force and separated from his family. He and so many other children have been victims of violent acts. We children who have taken part in this workshop are addressing the issue of the six serious violations of children’s rights during armed conflict. These violations, mentioned in Resolution 1612, are:

Killing and maiming of children
Recruitment or use of children as soldiers
Sexual violence against children
Attacks against schools or hospitals
Denial of humanitarian access
Abduction of children

In order to work on this problem, we were asked to produce an advocacy message, prepare a plan of action, compose a song and create a piece of theatre relating to the issues.

We were to target two decision makers:

– The Minister of Defence and the senior levels of the Armed Forces with the aim of reinforcing the implementation of measures taken to end the six serious violations.
– The Joint Technical Working Group (or GTTC) with the aim of regularly recording the situation relating to the six serious violations.

This armed conflict started before we were born, but now that we are here and understand how important we are, representing 54% of the population of the DR Congo, we want to live and grow up in peace.

I would encourage my country and other countries to continue to organise this type of workshop so that we children can take part in decisions that concern us in order to make the authorities realise what we want.

We need to be protected from the impact of this armed conflict that plagues our country.

Find out more about the MRM mechanism:

Photo: © UNICEF RDC/2015/Serge Wingi

Kindly translated from French by Emily Scott

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Merveille

Merveille a 17 ans et elle étudie en première année à l’Institut Supérieur Pédagogique de la Gombe à Kinshasa. Après plusieurs années d'expériences d’enfant reporter, Merveille s'est lancée dans des études d'histoire, sciences sociales et gestion politique. Son but est de défendre les droits de ses pairs et de venir en aide. Selon elle, “il ne faut pas se limiter au rôle d’enfant reporter mais poursuivre cet engagement pour les enfants dans la vie d’adulte”.

Merveille is 17 years old and is in her first year of university in Kinshasa. After a few years of experience as Child Reporter, Merveille has decided to study History, Social Sciences and Political Management. Her goal is to defend her peers' rights and help. Merveille believes: ‘One must not restrict oneself to the role of being a child reporter, but continue this commitment for children into adult life.’

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