Democratic Republic of the Congo
The situation of children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is dire. The country is in the midst of a complex and protracted conflict, which has had a devastating impact on children. In 2022, the DRC had the highest number of grave violations against children in armed conflict in the world, with at least 2,420 children suffering from violations such as killing, maiming, abductions, and sexual violence.
Recruitment and use of children in armed groups is a major concern in the DRC. In 2022, 1,545 children – some as young as 5 years old – were verified as having been recruited and used by armed groups. Children are often forced to fight, cook, clean, and carry ammunition for armed groups. They are also at high risk of being killed, maimed, and sexually abused.
Sexual violence against children is also a widespread problem in the DRC. In 2022, the DRC had the world’s highest levels of verified cases of sexual violence against children committed by armed forces and armed groups. Girls are particularly at risk of sexual violence, but boys are also targeted.
In addition to the conflict, children in the DRC also face a number of other challenges, including poverty, malnutrition, and lack of access to education and healthcare. According to UNICEF, around 43% of children in the DRC under the age of 5 are stunted, meaning that they are too short for their age. And only around 75% of children of primary school age attend school.
The humanitarian situation in the DRC is also very serious. In 2023, an estimated 5.5 million people in the DRC require humanitarian assistance, including 2.8 million children. This is due to a combination of factors, including the conflict in North Kivu, natural disasters in South-Kivu, and economic hardship.
Vastare Foundation – Stop Child Abuse in Congo is working to address the challenges facing children in the DRC. However, more needs to be done to protect children and ensure that they have access to the basic services they need to survive and thrive.