In the Democratic Republic of Congo, tens of thousands of people have fled their homes since the end of March, in the territory of Rutshuru (in the east), to escape the fighting between the rebels in the M23 and the Congolese forces. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) estimates the number of internally displaced persons at 150,000, plus 25,000 refugees in Uganda. Among these people are children, of whom more than 800 are separated from their families.
– The fighting triggered panic and families dispersed when they tried to flee, says the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Children were therefore sometimes separated from their families inlandbut other times, family members are separated between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.
According to Raphael Ténaud, head of the ICRC’s sub-delegation for North Kivu, these children share the same needs as all displaced persons or refugees: “They sometimes live in difficult conditions, they lack water, medical care, access to toilets worthy of names, sometimes when the children are “very vulnerable, we can also welcome them and transfer them to reception centers, for example in Goma, which will be able to take care of them while we allow ourselves to be looked after and hopefully find their family.”
To date, some 40 unaccompanied children have been reunited with their families in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The ICRC continues its work, so that others in turn can find their loved ones. But the task is complicated by the security situation in the areaand the age of the children concerned, Raphael Ténaud explains:
There are some children who are already teenagers and others who are so small that they can not even tell us how to find their parents. We can not find out exactly where they come from, they do not know a phone number or address and it is all the more difficult for these children to find their family. The ICRC asks anyone with information about unaccompanied children to contact them by contacting one of their volunteers in the DRC or by phone. For this, the organization has set up a system of free telephone calls for displaced persons separated from their relatives, to 472222.