From 1996 till 2003 several Congolese and foreign rebel groups and government forces fought for political, military and economic control in eastern DRC. Much of the fighting has been to control mineral and other economic resources. Millions of people died and fled their homes because of the war. In 2003 a peace agreement was signed, but violent clashes still happen on a regular basis in eastern DRC. In 2006 the first democratic elections were held. Jospeh Kabila is the first elected head of government since over 40 years.
See Photo gallery of the Peace Day 2007 event in DRC
Consequences for children
The war has had serious consequences for the social-economic situation in East Congo. This has also had repercussions on the children’s well being. Many children have had direct experience of war. East Congo is home to many orphans, refugees, street children and children who were accused of witchcraft and banished from their family. About 12.000 child soldiers are still being recruited by various armed groups. A lot of them are kidnapped and forcibly recruited. But some children also join ‘voluntarily’. Mostly because of their very poor economic living conditions, because they are looking for protection or because they want revenge.
Social services such as health care and education were already of an extremely low standard before the war and in the aftermath of the conflict these scarcely exist.
What does War Child do?
In DR Congo War Child strives to improve the psychosocial wellbeing of children and youth in and around Bukavu. Children who receive support are:
- Former child soldiers
- Street children
- Children who are accused of witchcraft and banished from their family
- Girls who are victim of sexual violence
- Children who are in conflict with the law
Education and psychosocial assistance
In 2007 en 2008 War Child supports seven local organisations who work with these children. They offer them non-formal education (numeracy and literacy classes, accelerated basic education, vocational training), psychosocial assistance and sometimes shelter, food and health care.
With financial support of War Child the local partner organisations can expand their programmes and increase the number of activities. War Child also enhances the capacity of these organisations. They are trained in organisational development, financial management and fundraising. Together with War Child they also work on improving the quality and the effect of their psychosocial and educational projects.
Better psychosocial assistance
War Child trains the social workers of the partner organisations to improve their skills and enable them to give effective psychosocial aid to the children they are working with. Training subjects are for example: child rights, child development, positive communication with children, solving conflicts, family reunification, problems of victims of sexual violence. War Child also teaches the social workers how to lead creative workshops in order to meet the psychosocial needs of children.
Better quality education
De social workers and teachers of War Child’s local partners receive several training sessions to improve the quality of their non-formal education programmes. As well the content of the courses as the teaching methods are included in the training. In this way the teachers also learn new pedagogic skills, which stimulate the development of the participating children.
Finally the partner organisations of War Child receive material support. They submit proposals for micro-projects, like setting up a library, producing a radio programme for youth or acquiring tools for vocational training. With this material support the partners can expand their (re)creative and educational activities.y.
Director of War Child Canada, Samantha Nutt, went to DR Congo, where she also visited the project of War Child Netherlands. She and her husband, Dr. Eric Hoskins, are writing on the impact of war. Read her impressive report Kids have been fighters in the Congo, but can they survive peace?
Read CRISIS PROFILE at Alertnet-What’s going on in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)?