February 2011

Report from Bukavu on the World day for Children associated with Armed Forces and Groups

From BVES, Bukavu, Sud-Kivu, DRC:

This Saturday the 11th of February 2011, marks the commemoration of the anniversary introducing the CDE Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflicts. It is a campaign launched by BVES against the recruitment and use of children by armed forces and groups in collaboration with UNICEF, MONUSCO and the Coalition to end the use of Child Soldiers that is in its thirteenth day of action.

  1. Public and community awareness campaigns have been organised in the districts of Kalehe, Fizi, Uvira and Kabere and the in the city of Bukavu.
  2. 26 children associated with armed groups and forces (EAFGA) have been identified and pulled out of the armed FRF (Federalist Republican Forces) group as part of the integration process into the FARDC (Military of the Democratic Republic of the Congo) in Fizi and Bukavu. Even though there is still much to do in the challenge of withdrawing as many children as possible from the FRF, it’s an extraordinary result to have pulled out so many of these children, mainly ethnically Banayamulenge, since 1997! These children removed from armed forces and groups (ESFGA) are already living peacefully with other ESFGAs of different ethnicities at the BVES Transit and Orientation Centre in Bukavu, and they all celebrated yesterday’s anniversary together!
  3. Yesterday a press conference was organized in Bukavu for 18 journalists from 15 radio and television channels covering this important awareness campaign and appeal, in which the DRC state military and police also participated. A joint press release was strategically read by the chief of MONUSCO (UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC)! Some sixty guests actively participated in the press event.
  4. Three banners were hung in key locations around the city of Bukavu with the message of the day; “Children in armed groups and forces – victims, not perpetrators: fight against the use of children in adults’ wars”!

As we await the results of the campaign, of which the evaluation is set for the 28th February 2011, we would like to thank you for supporting the issue of recruitment and use of children by armed forces and groups is now in the spotlight in Sud-Kivu and throughout the DRC.

Let’s continue to work together so that we may one day fulfill our aim of zero children associated to armed forces and groups in the DRC.