Mil­lions of chil­dren have lost par­ents in eth­nic vi­o­lence

7 Days in Dubai - - SPECIAL REPORT -

ore than 4 mil­lion chil­dren have lost at least one par­ent in Congo over the past two decades, the silent vic­tims of con­tin­u­ous cy­cles of vi­o­lence.

And more than 26 mil­lion or­phans live in West and Cen­tral Africa, where Congo is lo­cated – the se­cond high­est num­ber in the world be­hind South Asia, ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tions.

Th­ese chil­dren have grown up amid con­flict fu­elled by eth­nic strife and the fight over valu­able min­er­als. The vi­o­lence and dis­place­ment are erod­ing the tra­di­tion of families car­ing for their own.

The break­down in fam­ily means some or­phans are forced to look after them­selves and their younger sib­lings. Some are vul­ner­a­ble to re­cruit­ment by armed groups. And many also face sex­ual ex­ploita­tion, in a coun­try where rape has be­come com­mon­place on the streets.

“They are the or­phans with a story of vi­o­lence since 1994 – it’s a gen­er­a­tion of vic­tims that con­tin­ues,” says Fran­cisca Ichim­paye, a se­nior mon­i­tor at the En Avant Les En­fants INUKA cen­tre. And the chil­dren “lose their story in the vi­o­lence”.

As Congo falls once again into vi­o­lence in the face of a de­layed elec­tion, here are pro­files of some or­phans in Goma...

SHEL­TER: Or­phaned chil­dren play on the foot­ball field at the Don Bosco cen­tre in Goma, Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo

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