When conflict and survival force to sacrifice school

Displaced children in DRC

Displaced children in a camp in Tanganyika Province (© UNICEF DRC Longa)

In Tanganyika Province, the intercommunity conflict has emptied many villages of their inhabitants. Thousands of people have fled to neighbouring areas for shelter. Discover the story of some of these displaced people, now living in a small makeshift camp in the city centre of Manono.

The daily life of a displaced person

It is six o’clock in Manono; the day has started. Women, men and children come out of makeshift huts, which are mostly thatched. They go in all directions looking for work. Men usually work in the fields and cut wood to sell it. Women do laundry or housework or search for dead wood with their children.

“I can buy food just for the kids when I haven’t earned enough,” says Faila, 50. This mother has been living in the camp for two years with her nine children. The family fled the Mutabi village when bloody clashes broke out between the Pygmy and Bantu militia. “If I do the laundry, I earn 1,500 Congolese francs a day,” says the mother.

In the camp, parents are starving themselves to make sure their children can eat every day. Children often have to work to contribute to household expenses. Kaleta is a father of 5 children, 4 of whom are of school age. Since 2017, the family has found refuge and camp and survives working the land. He has trouble finding food and his children are forced to work to bring in more money.

Survive or study?

There are about 200 children in this camp and since 2017 they are no longer attending school. They lost their childhood because they have to work to help their parents. Philippe, 13, cuts straw to sell it in bundles and earns about 500 Congolese Francs per day. Other children sell fruit at the market. Children can no longer go to school because their parents can’t afford to enrol them. “We are in pain, it’s inhuman. No bed, no food, no money and children no longer go to school,” exclaims a mother.

If families do not have food, how could they support the schooling of children? Their right to education is stifled to the detriment of their survival. The Convention on the Rights of the Child provides, however, that primary education must be free and compulsory for all children. This right to education is also recognized in the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Many children in Tanganyika Province are still waiting without going to school.

More info about displaced children in DRC

Kindly translated from French by Ariane Apodaca

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Adolphine, 14 ans, est une Enfant Reporter du Tanganyika. Très engagée dans la communication extérieure, elle souhaite interpeller le monde sur la situation des personnes déplacées de sa province.

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