Frontline Stories

No One to Turn To – Life for Children in Eastern DRC


More than one-third of children in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are scared all the time or every day.
Lack of protection systems leave children vulnerable to lifelong consequences of conflict.

Children in eastern DRC face disturbing levels of violence and fear, according to a World Vision report based on interviews with more than 100 children. More than 1.5 million people have fled their homes in eastern DRC, and almost every child World Vision interviewed (96 percent) has been forced from their home, many more than once.

In No One To Turn To, it is reported that more than a third of the interviewees had experienced or witnessed violence firsthand, and 38 percent were scared on a daily basis. “The atrocities children spoke of – seeing their parents killed, fleeing their home, being attacked – are committed so frequently that many regard it as a normal part of daily life,” said Fran Charles, Advocacy Manager for World Vision in eastern DRC. “They usually witness unspeakable horrors and have no home or family to turn to. We know how vital it is that they receive support, protection and loving, caring relationships now so to prevent permanent damage as they grow,” added Charles.

Children shared their experiences in the interviews:

“I am always afraid since I was raped. Every time I hear a loud noise, like a plate dropping, it grabs my heart. I am always scared because there is always conflict,” said 14-year-old Laini.

“I heard gunshots and fled with my mother. I was ahead of my mum and they killed her. Then, on the journey, two armed men raped me and I became pregnant,” described 16-year-old Mapendo.

“Armed men arrive. I saw them take adults and tie their arms and feet with their clothes, and then beat their heads with hammers,” said 12-year-old Patrick.

 

No One To Turn To looks at the impact of the region's continual violence on children and makes recommendations on how governments can help.

The relatively small number of children spoken to means their experiences cannot be taken as representative of all children in eastern DRC. World Vision presents this report only as a snapshot of experience and views in one conflict-affected part of the country. But because of where these children live – one of the worst areas – World Vision believes it provides a window into the experiences of children and families across the region, and should serve as an authentic voice of their needs – and what must happen to alleviate their suffering.

To learn more, you can:

  • read the advocacy report, No One To Turn To.
  • watch a video about the things that would make the biggest difference to children affected by the war in eastern DRC.
  • become a World Vision Partner, bringing help to people affected by conflict.

 

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