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Democratic Republic of the Congo: ICRC reunites children with their families

18-05-2000 News Release 00/18

It has been so long since Raphael Kyanga last saw his children, aged six, eight and 13, that he still can hardly believe his family will soon be reunited. Yet he says he always knew the ICRC would make his dream come true of seeing his children again. Raphael finds it hard to contain his joy, knowing that in a few hours they will finally join him and his wife in the eastern town of Goma. His children belong to the first group of unaccompanied minors ever brought by the ICRC from the government-controlled part of the Congo to the rebel-held east of the country to be reunited with their families.

Since 1998 Raphael's children have been stranded in the capital, Kinshasa, separated from their parents by the conflict that has effectively split the country in two. The Kyanga family is just one of hundreds, perhaps thousands, torn apart by the fighting that erupted there in August 1998. The break-up of these families is among the most tragic consequences of the hostilities. Faced with this challenge, the ICRC, supported by hundreds of volunteers from the country's Red Cross Society, has been working tirelessly to reunite unaccompanied children with their parents or other relatives who can take care of them. Since late 1998, the ICRC's presence in eastern Congo has made it possible to arrange for nearly 300 children to rejoin their families.