Torture in  [DRC]  [other countries]
Human Trafficking in  [DRC]  [other countries]
Street Children in  [DRC]  [other countries]
Child Prostitution in  [DRC]  [other countries]
 

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the early years of the 21st Century                                                          gvnet.com/streetchildren/Congo.htm

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

The economy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo - a nation endowed with vast potential wealth - is slowly recovering from two decades of decline. Conflict that began in August 1998 has dramatically reduced national output and government revenue, increased external debt, and resulted in the deaths of more than 5 million people from violence, famine, and disease.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Congo

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.

*** FEATURED ARTICLE ***

Around 20,000 street children wander in Kinshasa

Xinhua News Agency, June 01, 2007

english.people.com.cn/200706/01/eng20070601_379840.html

[accessed 2 May 2011]

Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a city of more than 7 million people, is a host to about 20,000 street children, commonly known as "shegues," thus constituting an untenable and deplorable social phenomenon.

According to Mafou, out of all the street children living in Kinshasa, 74.59 percent are boys with the rest being girls: orphans, who have lost both parents aged between 0 and 18 years represent 25.8 percent of this children. About 21.78 percent of these children are beggars, 5.93 percent are street vendors while 30.98 percent are engaged in minor jobs.

Mafou said the children can be grouped under six categories, notably, abandoned children, orphans who have lost one or both parents, children commonly known as wizards, displaced or non- accompanied children, young street adults and street children who are off springs of the young street adults.

According to Godding, many children left their homes in search of food and never returned; many have equally fallen victim to the suffering of their parents who accuse them of being evil, branding them wizards and throwing them into the streets. A good number also fled their homes due to mistreatment from stepmothers and stepfathers.

Children of Congo: From War to Witches [video]

Dan Balluff, Jul 15, 2008

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ew4rd1YyD7A

[accessed 2 May 2011]

Dan Balluff reports that over five million people have died during the past decade as a result of the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Few people are aware of the unimaginable scale of human suffering, death, and destruction that has occurred in this vast country deep in the heart of Africa. In the aftermath of this brutal war, children have endured the brunt of the suffering. This 67 minute film documents the plight of thousands of street children living in Kinshasa and confirms the wide-spread accusations of child witchcraft, torture and child prostitution. The film also examines the efforts to reintegrate demobilized child soldiers, displaced refugees, and orphaned children following the eruption of the massive Nyiragongo volcano, near the city of Goma in Eastern Congo. These heroic efforts are finally bringing some measure of hope and stability to the lives of the Congolese people.

 

*** ARCHIVES ***

UNICEF – The Democratic Republic of the Congo DRC

www.unicef.org/infobycountry/drcongo.html

[accessed 2 May 2011]

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

www.dol.gov/ilab/media/reports/iclp/tda2004/congo-brazzaville.htm

[accessed 30 January 2011]

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Children in the DRC have been negatively affected by continuing armed conflict.  The number of orphans and street children is reported to be on the rise.  In November 2003, the UN Special Rapporteur to the DRC reported that there were large numbers of child refugees and war orphans engaged in street work, including begging and prostitution.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2005/61563.htm

[accessed 30 January 2011]

CHILDREN - According to UNICEF, between 25 thousand and 50 thousand child refugees, war orphans, and children accused of witchcraft or sorcery lived on the streets throughout the country, although some of those who were not orphans returned to their families at day's end. So-called child sorcerers were accused of having mystical powers and their families often abandoned them, most often because of socio-economic difficulties. The government was ill-equipped to deal with large numbers of street children.

There was widespread discrimination and violence by average citizens against these children, who were widely perceived to be street thugs engaged in petty crime, begging, and prostitution. There were numerous reports of collusion between police and street children, including street children who paid police officers for the right to sleep in abandoned buildings, and children who paid police a percentage of goods they stole in large markets. In addition there were reports that different groups and individuals regularly rented groups of these children to disrupt public order.

Violence against street children continued during the year. Soldiers and police subjected street children to harassment. Security forces in Kinshasa rounded up street children and there were unconfirmed reports that police transferred them outside the city. For example on November 4, police arrested more that 430 "vagrants," including more than 70 street children, and detained them with adults.

During the year there were reports that mobs killed street children. In Mbuji-Mayi, Eastern Kasai, a group of adults, reportedly incited by extremist religious organizations, burned to death several children suspected of witchcraft.

No action had been taken against those responsible for killing alleged child sorcerers in 2004 or 2003.

Human Rights Reports » 2004 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, February 28, 2005

www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41597.htm

[accessed 2 May 2011]

CHILDREN - Violence against street children increased during the year. Soldiers and police subjected street children to harassment. There were unconfirmed reports that security forces in Kinshasa rounded up street children and transferred them outside the city. In late September, street children attacked civilians and local artisanal miners in Mbuji Mayi. In retaliation, the next week, miners and mobs of civilians killed at least 20 street children. Some were burned alive and others were beheaded. There were reports that civilians burned alive a policeman and soldier for complicity with the street children.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) [DOC]

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 29 September 2006

www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/898586b1dc7b4043c1256a450044f331/2a3dc64e60de1887c125722700438d40/$FILE/G0644909.doc

[accessed 27 February 2011]

[73] The Committee notes with satisfaction that the revised asylum policy in place has enhanced the protection of asylum-seeker and refugee children who are unaccompanied or separated from their parents. However, the Committee is concerned that access to education and health is not fully guaranteed for refugee children. The Committee is also concerned at reports of increased violence and discrimination against refugee children, especially from Rwanda, and at the fact that Rwandan children are not integrated in the regular educational system.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 8 June 2001

www1.umn.edu/humanrts/crc/congo2001.html

[accessed 30 January 2011]

[70] The Committee is concerned at the high number and difficult situation of children living in and/or working on the street. The Committee is concerned at, inter alia, the lack of access of these children to food and health and education services and the exposure of these children to several risks, including those related to substance abuse, violence, sexually transmitted illnesses and HIV/AIDS. The Committee is concerned in addition at the tendency of the criminal justice system to treat these children as delinquents.

Children in Congo forced into exorcisms

Dan Harris, Special for USA TODAY, 5/21/2009

www.usatoday.com/news/world/2009-05-20-childwitch_N.htm

[accessed 2 May 2011]

THROWN INTO STREETS - Mushiete works with street children who have been accused of witchcraft. He says homeless children are frequently raped and beaten, even by police. Drug use is rampant. Girls often resort to prostitution, leaving their own babies to sleep on the side of the road at night while they sell themselves. - sccp

Kinshasa’s unemployed youth turn to stealing and killing

[access information unavailable]

They are armed with machetes and machine guns and attack residential areas, where they demand valuables and destroy vehicles before disappearing. Anyone who resists is savagely killed. Police intervention is generally too late or ineffective. The most affected areas are Ndjili, Masina and Kingasani on the eastern outskirts of Kinshasa.

Crime in Kinshasa is a consequence, not the cause of the problem. The cause is unemployment among youth.   A decade of war and political disturbances have ruined the national economy and made it easy to acquire arms and ammunition.

Legions of street kids legacy of Congolese tragedy

Report by The Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 26 Apr 2009

reliefweb.int/node/306258

[accessed 2 May 2011]

THEIR NUMBERS HAVE SPIRALLED OVER THE PAST 15 YEARS – THE VICTIMS OF SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC COLLAPSE - Nine year-old Patient sleeps rough in the Katangan capital Lubumbashi. He says he was forced out when his father remarried following the death of his mother.   "[Our stepmother] started mistreating us, me and my little brother," he said. "She deprived us of food, and we did all the domestic work. One day a pastor of the church where our stepmother prays came to pay us a visit and said that we were sorcerers.   "[He said] if she has no children with my father it is because of our presence in the house. [Our] suffering was so strong and unbearable that we fled from our house, and today I'm still living on the street."

Patient spends his days scrounging for food and his nights looking for a safe place to sleep. "I have no fixed place to sleep," he said. "[To eat] I beg people of good will for money, and if that doesn't bring enough, I collect food waste in warehouses. In the evening, we meet with friends, and each one shows what he has collected, and we prepare something together."   Besides begging, the street children sometimes find paid work shining shoes, washing and guarding cars, delivering packages, selling cigarettes on the streets and in bars and as money collectors on taxi-buses. Many turn to alcohol and drugs like valium and hemp which are readily available due to weak regulations controlling the sale of illicit substances. Others sniff gasoline.

Child sorcery, a sinister curse for Congolese children

Fatima Najm, Arab News, Lubumbashi, 18 December 2008

www.arabnews.com/node/319112

[accessed 10 October 2012]

“She was torn from her sisters who were crying and pulling on her hand and begging her parents. Aisha was shocked. She was silent and the congregation used this as ‘evidence’ that she was accepting her status as a witch,” said her foster mother Maria Jose Rodriguez. “I was in that congregation and I left the church afterward and looked for Aisha to adopt her as quickly as possible. Her mother blamed her for a miscarriage she had,” Maria said.

Aisha was starved and humiliated during her exorcism. She was told to confess while she was beaten on her knuckles and the soles of her feet.

The problem stretches from Lubumbashi to Kinshasa. Evolved as a tribal tradition, it is now replaced by religion in the cities, according to Pastor Djicain Monzambe, national coordinator of PCPDE Congo.

Poverty Pushes Children Onto the Streets

Miriam Mannak, Inter Press Service News Agency IPS, Lubumbashi, Nov 22, 2008

www.ipsnews.net/africa/nota.asp?idnews=44817

[accessed 2 May 2011]

With salaries sometimes not being paid for up to twenty-four months, more and more parents can no longer afford to take care of their children. As a result, many youngsters end up on the street.  It is unknown how many children live in the streets of the DRC, as no nationwide research has been conducted so far. The only available information has been gathered by private and non-governmental organizations, and focuses on individual cities.  For instance, according to a survey by the Network of Educators for Children and Young People on the Street (REEJER, after its French name), the capital Kinshasa alone hosts approximately 20,000 children.  A similar scenario, although on a smaller scale, is found in other urban hubs in the DRC. Oeuvres Maman Marguerite (OMM), a Belgian Salesian NGO, claims that Lubumbashi boasts about 3,000 street children, of whom 750 live on the streets permanently.  "These youngsters have lost all contact with their parents and families," said Eric Meert, who runs Bakanja Ville - a refuge shelter for street children, which is run by OMM.  "In addition, we know of some 2,300 youths who roam the street during the day, aiming to earn some money to support their families. The majority of this group returns home at the end of the day, although some of them spend an occasional night on the street."

Human Rights Watch Submission to the Committee on the Rights of the Child For the Periodic Review of the Democratic Republic of Congo [PDF]

Human Rights Watch, August 2008

www.hrw.org/legacy/pub/2008/africa/hrw.drc.crc.0808.pdf

[accessed 2 May 2011]

STREET CHILDREN - Tens of thousands of children live on the streets in Kinshasa and other cities in the DRC. In the relatively small city of Goma (North Kivu), for example, one Congolese organization working with street children counted 1,675 children living on the streets in April 2007, a number that has probably increased in the last year because of further population displacements in North Kivu. Few of these children receive adequate nutrition or medical and educational services.

Soldiers, police, and military police routinely harass street children, forcing them to hand over money or other property. They also frequently threaten or beat the children and sexually assault the girls. Some street children are imprisoned for months for minor crimes such as pick-pocketing. They are often held without trial for prolonged periods, usually together with adults, some of whom are convicted criminals. As one children’s rights activist said, “The prisons become ‘reeducation centers’ for the kids. They may have only committed a small crime, but by the time they leave the prison, they’re professional bandits.”

Police have also carried out mass arrests of street children. In late 2006, authorities arrested hundreds of street children in Kinshasa and scores of street children in Goma, probably because street children were considered supporters of opposition presidential candidate Jean-Pierre Bemba. More recently a police unit for child protection in Goma has helped improve treatment of street children by the police in that city, offering a model that should be implemented elsewhere.

Children of Congo: From War to Witches [video]

Dan Balluff, Jul 15, 2008

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ew4rd1YyD7A

[accessed 2 May 2011]

Dan Balluff reports that over five million people have died during the past decade as a result of the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Few people are aware of the unimaginable scale of human suffering, death, and destruction that has occurred in this vast country deep in the heart of Africa. In the aftermath of this brutal war, children have endured the brunt of the suffering. This 67 minute film documents the plight of thousands of street children living in Kinshasa and confirms the wide-spread accusations of child witchcraft, torture and child prostitution. The film also examines the efforts to reintegrate demobilized child soldiers, displaced refugees, and orphaned children following the eruption of the massive Nyiragongo volcano, near the city of Goma in Eastern Congo. These heroic efforts are finally bringing some measure of hope and stability to the lives of the Congolese people.

DRC plans for its 40,000 AIDS orphans

Panapress PANA, Kinshasa, 10 may 2008

www.panapress.com/DRC-plans-for-its-40,000-AiDS-orphans--12-514076-66-lang2-index.html

[accessed 2 May 2011]

The city of Kinshasa, the capital, is said to have over 5,000 AIDS-orphaned children, who are being catered for by Children's rights NGOs, the UN and other humanitarian agencies.  "Thousands of AIDS-orphaned children, expelled by their relatives, are doing their best to survive in the streets. They are victims of broken family structures, negligence and abuse", the Coordinator for the city of Kinshasa of the International Catholic Office for Children (BICE), Floribert Kabeya Ibanda, told PANA.  "The daily fight is very tough for a child's life. Many of them, manipulated or exploited by adults without scruples, ruin their health by doing dangerous work or are put in a situation of conflict with the law", he added.  In addition to AIDS-orphaned children, BICE is taking action on the ground in favour of the so-called witch children, imprisoned child soldiers, teenage mothers or girls in difficult situations and other street children.

Church-backed project will give hope to Congo street children

Ekklesia, 17 Jan 2008

www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/6603

[accessed 2 May 2011]

There are now some 250,000 children living on the streets in the Democratic Republic of Congo (known as Zaire under former dictator Mobutu) social worker Ian Harvey told a packed Anglican congregation in southwest England on Sunday.

The plight of street children in Congo has grown as a result of parental deaths from HIV-AIDS, children and families displaced by war, child soldiers who have been ejected from their homes and who cannot return, children of previous partners who are not welcome because one parent has remarried, and children accused of witchcraft - often as a pretext to get rid of them for other reasons.

10,000 street children rejoin families in DR Congo

December 21, 2007

This article has been archived by World Street Children News and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 2 May 2011]

Some 10,000 street children living in Kinshasa are set to return to their families, the coordinator of the network of educators of street children and youths (REEJER), Mr. Remy Mafu, said here Thursday.  According to the REEJER, 14,000 children currently live on the streets of Kinshasa.

Congo-Kinshasa: Bishop Bulamatari - I Would Like a More Open-Minded New Way of Looking At These Children

E. Young & N. Yacoubian, UN Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo MONUC, 20 August 2007

This article has been archived by World Street Children News and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 2 May 2011]

WHAT HAS LED TO THE CAMPAIGN BEING SET UP? - The last investigation carried out in Kinshasa this year showed that there are 14,000 children on the streets. It is serious for an African city, especially when people talk of African solidarity. This investigation shows a reality and if we don't pay attention, we are likely to have a human time bomb which will make our city intolerable.

We are likely to have a generation which was born on the street and which grows up on the street, with increased crime and insecurity. This is because the natural environment for the development of a child is the family, and not the street.

Around 20,000 street children wander in Kinshasa

Xinhua News Agency, June 01, 2007

english.people.com.cn/200706/01/eng20070601_379840.html

[accessed 2 May 2011]

Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a city of more than 7 million people, is a host to about 20,000 street children, commonly known as "shegues," thus constituting an untenable and deplorable social phenomenon.

According to Mafou, out of all the street children living in Kinshasa, 74.59 percent are boys with the rest being girls: orphans, who have lost both parents aged between 0 and 18 years represent 25.8 percent of this children. About 21.78 percent of these children are beggars, 5.93 percent are street vendors while 30.98 percent are engaged in minor jobs.

Mafou said the children can be grouped under six categories, notably, abandoned children, orphans who have lost one or both parents, children commonly known as wizards, displaced or non- accompanied children, young street adults and street children who are off springs of the young street adults.

According to Godding, many children left their homes in search of food and never returned; many have equally fallen victim to the suffering of their parents who accuse them of being evil, branding them wizards and throwing them into the streets. A good number also fled their homes due to mistreatment from stepmothers and stepfathers.

NISS grad helping street kids in Congo

North Island Gazette, May 03 2007

This article has been archived by World Street Children News and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 3 May 2011]

“Street children organize themselves in amazing manners in order to survive: many of the kids I have met on the streets have seen more suffering in their seven years than most could imagine in a lifetime,” says Aldersey. “Yes, these kids are victims of unfortunate circumstance. But they are also heroes. They are courageous, capable, and determined, and all they need is people who have faith in them, people who believe in them, and people who encourage them.”

Ministry helps unite families in poverty-stricken Africa

Mission Network News, Congo-Kinshasa, 9 April, 2007

www.mnnonline.org/article/9781

[accessed 3 May 2011]

The girls, aged 12 and 13, were among five children in a Christian family. Like many other families in the area, their father had no job. Food was hard to come by, and tempers were short. One day, the girls' stepmother accused them of being witches and blamed the family's misfortunes on them.

The girls decided to leave home but soon found themselves without jobs, money, or shelter. They were like many other street children living in the Congo's streets--accused of being witches by their families, so they were abandoned or forcibly evicted by the very parents who should have loved and supported them.

Twelve Dead in Congo Street Clashes

The Guardian, 23 March 2007

www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/mar/23/congo

[accessed 3 May 2011]

The fighting started when forces loyal to Mr Bemba, now a businessman, defied a government order to disarm under a plan to cut his security detail to just 12 police officers.  Residents reported incidents of looting across the city by soldiers from both sides as well as gangs of street children.

Rights Groups Protest Eviction of Street Children From Congo's Capital

Franz Wild, Report, Voice of America, 26 Nov 2006

reliefweb.int/node/219441

[accessed 3 May 2011]

Tshetshe says she was not scared, because she is used to the rough conditions of living on the street.  She says she turned to life on the street at the urging of peers who told her she should leave home, because life would be better as a prostitute. She says her clients are homeless men, but she gets enough money for food.

The ranks of street kids first surged in the early 1990s, when the country, still known as Zaire, faced an economic downturn that pushed unemployment through the roof. Looting closed many businesses, and parents could often no longer afford to feed their children.  Many children and young adults have now spent more than a decade on the streets, and many have formed into gangs.

MONUC supporting street children

Nina Yacoubian, UN Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo MONUC, 23 Nov 06

This article has been archived by World Street Children News and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 3 May 2011]

From June to October 2006, 14 hectares of ground were cultivated, and that made it possible to pay for the food, schooling, healthcare and clothes of 50 street children often accused of sorcery.  “We did not kill our parents so that means we are not sorcerers. We are a part of society, but we are maltreated and exploited by society for their own interests,” said one of the children.  This project proved that, when given the opportunity under the right conditions, these children can live like everybody else and be integrated into society, explained the representative of the center.

"Sorcerers" swell ranks of Congo street children

Daniel Flynn, Reuters, Kinshasa, October 4, 2006

This article has been archived by World Street Children News and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 3 May 2011]

His father had abandoned him, leaving the Congolese boy to be raised by his grandmother. But Bofata's uncles blamed the child for casting a spell on his parents and they started to beat him.

Now a cheerful 13-year-old, his face still darkens as he recalls the years he spent on Kinshasa's vicious streets after he ran away.

"It was hard on the streets. To eat, we would help women carry their bags for a little money," said Bofata, who now lives in a centre for abandoned children. "At night, we slept on sand or on the pavement in front of shops."

Rights groups want arrested Congo children freed

Reuters, Kinshasa, September 27, 2006

This article has been archived by World Street Children News and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 3 May 2011]

Even before the elections, the first free vote in the vast, former Belgian colony in more than 40 years, rights groups had warned that feuding politicians might try to exploit Kinshasa's thousands of street children in their campaigns.

Protesting street kids held

Kinshasa, September 22, 2006

This article has been archived by World Street Children News and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 3 May 2011]

More than 700 street children have been rounded up in the Democratic Republic of Congo capital Kinshasa over the past few days, said police sources on Friday.  "We are holding in custody about 700 homeless young people, who were responsible for acts of disorder in central Kinshasa, where they threw stones at the police and passers-by," Kinshasa police chief Patrick Sabiti told AFP.

More than 100 street dwellers, mostly children and young people, caused havoc in central Kinshasa on Tuesday, burning tyres and throwing stones at police.  They were protesting about a fire that had broken out at a television station, owned by presidential contender Jean-Pierre Bemba, on Monday.  "These young people have been behaving like bandits for some time now, attacking members of the public. We have had several complaints," said Sabiti.

Homeless Youths Throng Congo's Cities

ANJAN SUNDARAM, Associated Press AP, Aug. 20, 2006

This article has been archived by World Street Children News and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 3 May 2011]

Sixteen-year-old Baruti Ilanga ran away from home four years ago and now lives in the rusty brown shell of a Toyota, discarded in a cemetery-turned-garbage dump in Kinshasa. Even though there's too many mosquitoes at night and he often goes hungry, he believes he's better off than most of his countryman.  "Everyone in Kinshasa is poor and hungry. At least we are happy," the boy shrugged, a half-empty bottle of pale yellow French Pastis beside him. "It is good in the street. I am free. I do what I want, when I want."

Children abused in electoral campaign

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN, Kinshasa, 30 July 2006

www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?reportid=59787

[accessed 3 May 2011]

The United Nations children’s fund, UNICEF, is conducting a census of street children. "The preliminary results suggest there may be 20,000 in Kinshasa alone," Christina Torsein, a UNICEF protection officer, said on Saturday. Zibigniew Orlikowski, a Roman Catholic priest who works with the Kinshasa-based NGO Ouevre de reclassement et de protection des enfants de la rue, tried to warn candidates against using street children when the campaign began in June. "Put yourself in the place of the children," Orlikowski said. "There is a demonstration in the street and the organisers offer money. What else can the children do but follow?"

Marie Paule's story: Surviving life on the streets of Kinshasa

Joyce Brandful, Report, UN Children's Fund, KINSHASA, 22 June 2006

reliefweb.int/node/212021

[accessed 3 May 2011]

The girls were saved from being burnt alive when a vigilant neighbour alerted police. That night, however, they were thrown out of the uncle's house – and that's when their life on the streets began.

Election Poses Dangers for Street Children

Human Rights Watch HRW, April 4, 2006

www.hrw.org/en/news/2006/04/03/dr-congo-election-poses-dangers-street-children

[accessed 3 May 2011]

As presidential elections approach, Congo’s tens of thousands of street children risk political manipulation and physical harm, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. In recent years, leaders of political parties have enlisted street children to create public disorder in mass demonstrations. In many cases, the security forces have responded to these protests with excessive use of force, leading to the death and injury of dozens of children.

Factors Pushing Children into the Streets

Human Rights Watch HRW Report, "What Future? - Street Children in the Democratic Republic of Congo", April 2006   Volume 18, No. 2(A)

www.hrw.org/reports/2006/drc0406/6.htm

[accessed 3 May 2011]

VI. FACTORS PUSHING CHILDREN INTO THE STREETS - An ever increasing number of children live and work in the streets of the DRC. Although exact numbers are unknown, child protection activists estimate that the number of street children in Kinshasa and other urban areas has doubled in the last ten years. They have identified multiple and sometimes inter-related causes to explain the increase. The two successive civil wars, one that began in 1996, the other in 1998, left more than 3.5 million Congolese civilians dead and has devastated the country. Some children living on the streets lost parents in the war––either directly in the conflict or due to hunger or disease––or were separated from them while fleeing violence, particularly in the war-ravaged east of the country. Entrenched poverty made worse due to the fighting has taken an equally heavy toll on Congolese families. Unable to feed their children, much less pay for their education, some parents send their children out into the streets to beg or look for work, or parents abandon their children when, faced with unemployment, they leave their homes in search of work in other regions or countries.

Congo removes 10,000 street children to orphanages

aol.countrywatch.com/aol_wire.asp?vCOUNTRY=41&UID=1134632

[Last access date unavailable]

The proliferation of reception centers is a strong signal that shows the breakdown of the traditional family ties that made the child a community property put under the protection of the community

The Street Children Of Kinshasa

www.alertnet.org/thenews/photogallery/509572.htm

[Last access date unavailable]

During a visit to Kinshasa in August, AlertNet contributor Katherine Arie spent a day photographing some of the Congolese capital's street children. Many were AIDS orphans or had been displaced by war, but most were accused of practicing sorcery and abandoned by their parents.

Kinshasa's forgotten children

Arnaud Zeitman in Kinshasa, BBC News, 16 August, 2001

news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/1494555.stm

[accessed 3 May 2011]

"Nobody respects street children in Kinshasa, and the authorities are just overwhelmed by the phenomenon" said Nadine Giese, who works at a Medecins du Monde-run street children's center.  According to figures provided by UNICEF, 15,000 children try to make a living on the streets of Kinshasa.

UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Roberto Garretón (for UN Economic and Social Council), 1 February 2001 -- Report on the situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, submitted by the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Roberto Garretón, in accordance with Commission on Human Rights resolution 2000/15

www.crin.org/violence/search/closeup.asp?infoid=27974

[accessed 10 October 2012]

[scroll down]

The cities are swarming with thousands of street children known as shégué.  While this is not a new phenomenon, it has increased as a result of the war and the loss of parents. There are cases of murder, such as the well-known case of “little Ndingari”, who was killed by a police officer in the Kinshasa market for no reason at all.

Congo Casts Out Its 'child Witches'

James Astill in Kinshasa, The Observer, Sunday 11 May 2003

www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/may/11/congo.jamesastill

[accessed 3 May 2011]

ORPHANS CREATED BY WAR AND AIDS ARE BEING ABANDONED BY POVERTY-STRICKEN RELATIVES WHO CALL THEM SORCERERS - Three years ago his mother succumbed to the virus marauding through Kinshasa's slums, leaving him an orphan. An uncle took him in, but with five children of his own to feed Olivier's was one mouth too many. Within a week he resorted to another phenomenon raging through Kinshasa's slums, accusing the child of witchcraft and casting him onto the streets.

Democratic Republic of Congo: "Our brothers who help kill us": Economic exploitation and human rights abuses in the east

Amnesty International, Index Number: AFR 62/010/2003, Date Published: 31 March 2003

www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AFR62/010/2003

[accessed 4 May 2011]

The education system is under-funded and pupil drop-out rates have increased. The number of street children has also considerably increased in Goma and Bukavu.  While it is extremely difficult to gather reliable statistics on the issue, the local human rights organization Héritiers de la Justice (Heirs of Justice) "there is a perceptible and evident link and correlation between the war, the high number of school drop-outs and the increase of street children in RCD-Goma controlled eastern DRC."

Congo deal boosts hope for street kids

Katherine Arie, Report - AlertNet, Kinshasa, 29 Aug 2002

reliefweb.int/node/108415

[accessed 4 May 2011]

BREAKDOWN OF GOVERNMENT - Abandoned children -- AIDS orphans, runaways, victims of abusive or broken homes, children recruited and then deserted by one of the many armies or regional militias operating in the country -- have suffered most.  The number of abandoned children is difficult to gauge but it appears to be increasing.  The U.N. Children's Fund UNICEF estimated in 2000 that there were 50,000 abandoned children.

Violence Against Girls in Conflict with the Law

Human Rights Watch HRW, 20 Feb 2007

www.hrw.org/legacy/english/docs/2007/02/20/global15345.htm

[accessed 4 May 2011]

POLICE VIOLENCE, INCLUDING RAPE AND SEXUAL ASSAULT - In the Democratic Republic of Congo, girls also reported beatings by police. Seventeen-year old Rebecca reported that in 2005, … A few kids were stealing from the market, and the police arrested a whole group of street kids in the area. We were more than twenty kids in one small room at the lockup. We were whipped with a plastic cord on the buttocks. The kids would cry and scream. My friends paid the police 400 francs (U.S. $0.80) to make them stop.

Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) Initial report of the DRC

Committee On The Rights Of The Child, Twenty-Seventh Session, SUMMARY Record Of The 705th Meeting, 28 May 2001

www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/0/654ae47921194283c1256a680053e05c?Opendocument

[accessed 4 May 2011]

55. Ms. CHUTIKUL expressed concern about the treatment of street children, who were considered offenders and were subjected to arbitrary arrest and police harassment.  Such children were generally victims of circumstances, such as dysfunctional family structures, armed conflict or a lack of schooling. Because they were victims, they should be provided with social integration and rehabilitation programs, including education and vocational training.

UNICEF and International & Local NGOs in the Area of Child Protection

[access information unavailable]

To address the issue of the street children and traumatized children, special attention will go to the reunion programs for street children, demobilized and unaccompanied minors with their families and communities, the reinforcement of basic social structures such as PHC and formal/non-formal education activities targeting these categories of children, and the reinforcement of national capacities to treat psycho-social problems of traumatized children.

Suffer the Children - The street children of kinshasa

CJ Maloney, March 1st, 2004

www.winne.com/news/2004/march/suffer_the_children.php

[accessed 4 May 2011]

The latest horror that the Congolese people have gotten into is that they are accusing their children of being witches and either killing them or casting them out into the streets.  This has gotten so prevalent that according to UNICEF and the UN there are anywhere between 15,000 to 40,000 children, mostly between the ages of 3 and 13, living on the streets of Kinshasa.  Now this is an approximation, since the DRC exists in a Land of the Approximate. Nobody really knows the true number.

A special fear for all Congolese children is the cult “pastor”. The pastor is a lethal combination of medicine man, high priest, and judge. They will approach families and offer to “cleanse” child witches for a fee. He also operates in the opposite direction, fingering a child as a witch, placing the child in immediate danger. Parents also seek out such men, looking for someone to give them support for the witchcraft accusations against their child or a cure for it.

After all was said and done, the pastor claimed that “more work” (and hence more money) was needed to cleanse these witch children. The parents left with the children in tow. Being impoverished, they might very well decide to part with their children rather than their money.   According to many reports, Congolese parents use the accusation of witchcraft as a pretext for ridding themselves of an extra mouth to feed. No doubt this is true. But no doubt it is also true that many do believe it. Either way, thus grows the ranks of Kinshasa’s street children.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES.  Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Street Children – Congo DRC", http://gvnet.com/streetchildren/Congo.htm, [accessed <date>]

 

 

Torture in  [DRC]  [other countries]
Human Trafficking in  [DRC]  [other countries]
Street Children in  [DRC]  [other countries]
Child Prostitution in  [DRC]  [other countries]