The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) made the news this week, as rebels took one of the country’s largest cities – Goma in the east of the country – in a sudden escalation of a violent insurgency that has been terrorizing the regions civilian population for months. Goma is strategically important, as it is surrounded by some of the richest mineral deposits in the world and, as such, it seems unlikely that this will mark the end of fighting – it is more likely that it signals the beginning of renewed warfare.
War Child staff in the region are being temporarily evacuated for their safety but we are not going to abandon the Congolese people. In fact this return to conflict is evidence of just how important our work is.
Reports coming out of eastern DRC indicate that the armed groups are deliberately targeting children and there are reports of boys and girls being recruited as child soldiers. There are reports that rebel combatants in Goma shot a boy dead yesterday because of his alleged association with Government forces. And as is always the case in the DRC, this conflict is being accompanied by a wave of sexual violence against girls and women, in what was already recognized as the rape capital of the world.
Breaking the cycle of violence can take decades. It requires a long-term investment in communities, in order to create the conditions that allow children to enjoy a happy and healthy childhood. It is War Child’s firm belief that a secure childhood is essential if children are to build a more peaceful and prosperous future. We have seen for ourselves that only with access to education, opportunity and justice will communities recover.
War Child recently launched an emergency appeal for its work in the DRC. With this renewed conflict, the need is ever greater. The Slaight Family Foundation has pledged to match any donation to this appeal, doubling the impact of any gift. If you believe the children of Congo deserve a future without the threat of violence or sexual assault, please be generous.