Our investigation: Children who have left armed forces and groups in North Kivu

On 24 January 2014, Yoka Brandt, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF in the DRC, visited CAJED, a transit and orientation centre for children who have left armed forces and groups.

It was a chance for us child reporters to understand how children who have lived through such atrocities can rebuild themselves and rediscover hope.

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REDISCOVER A NORMAL LIFE

In our province, numerous children have been forcefully recruited into armed groups or forces. It is a serious violation of their rights and CAJED helps those who have managed to get out to rediscover a normal life.

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Since 2004 CAJED and its host families with the support of UNICEF have registered 7,000 children and as of today, around 6,000 have been reunited with their family. Here, the children are busy in the morning with educational activities including literacy, getting them back to the right level, and also introductory activities to small jobs which give them a skilled hand, others do artistic activities such as music and folk dances; in the afternoon, they do sport”, Gilbert Munda, CAJED coordinator, explained to us.

The task then consists of re-finding their families and integrating them back into their communities to give them a second chance.

“Despite the ordeals they have been through, these children are strong. They have inspiration, opportunities, hope and new ideas. It’s fantastic, this motivates us to redouble our efforts to help them to rebuild”, Madame Brandt told us smiling.

AVOID RECRUITMENT IN THE FIRST PLACE

We then questioned the representative of UNICEF in the DRC, Madame Bentein. According to her, it is very important to prevent recruitment in the first place and peace is the best protection for these children.

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It is very important that peace returns. We will then be able to achieve lasting work to refurbish schools, health centres and enable young people to find a job so that they can properly integrate into society”, Madame Bentein explained to us.

Here you have the wish of all child reporters.

A child should not be caught up in war.

A child has rights.

We call for peace for the respect of these rights.

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 Photos: UNICEF RDC / SECK

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Carine

Carine a 18 ans et elle est Enfant Reporter de Goma. Elle est en 1ere avec une spécialisation en informatique. Passionnée de prise d’images et de rédaction d’histoires à caractère humain, Carine croit qu’à travers ces canaux elle pourra contribuer au respect des droits des enfants de la RDC en général et du Nord-kivu en particulier.

Carine is 18 years old and is a child reporter from Goma. She is in her sixth year of secondary education and is specialising in information technology. A keen photographer and writer of human interest stories, Carine believes that through these channels she will be able to contribute to the respect of children’s rights in the DRC in general and in North-Kivu in particular.

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