CHILDREN FLEEING VIOLENCE IN CONGO
By Paul Ndiho
March 8, 2011
Children fleeing violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo struggle everyday to set up a new life.12 year old Ujumbe’s life was abruptly uprooted by civil conflict two years ago. Her family fled the violence and came to live in Walikale, a remote rain forest territory in DRC. VOA’s Paul Ndiho has more:
Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the most dangerous places on earth for a child. It’s the second poorest country in the world, and here, children have been used as soldiers, sexual slaves or laborers by armed forces and militia groups. The UN estimates that over 100,000 people have fled their homes since 2008, when violence between the rebels and the government troops began escalating.
“It’s very hard living here. Back home there is war so I have to stay here.”
Ujumbe knows that her childhood has been starkly different from that of teenagers in other parts of the world.
“My life is different from their lives because they have means.”
Adolescents make up approximately one-fifth of the global population, and young people need to stay in school, especially girls from the most marginalized areas of the world, where they are vulnerable to early marriage, violence and forced labor. Ujumbe says that staying in school is the only way to keep her out of danger.
“It’s good going to school because at school they teach us how to be and how to live outside of school. I like going to school and hope to finish but I’m not sure if another war will crop up and displace me again.”
Ujumbe worries about the most basic necessities many take for granted. A better life will be a challenge for Ujumbe’s generation, but she remains hopeful.
“I want my country to be a country of peace; for everyone to return home; for everyone to live well.”
Over five million people have died from war-related violence, hunger and disease in Eastern Congo in the last decade.