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Democratic Republic of the Congo: Children reunited with their parents

03-11-2003 News Release 03/138

“Unbelievable!” said Jazmin Cibalonza, as she took her two children, Claude, 13 years, and Nada, 12 years, into her arms and kissed them after they stepped from an ICRC car at their home in Goma. “My dream has come true,” added Jazmin, whose voice filled with emotion when she thanked the ICRC for bringing her children back to her after more than five years’ separation.

Jazmin had had to leave Goma, in the eastern part of the country, when the conflict began in 1998, leaving her children with her neighbour, where she thought they would be safe. Later, however, the neighbour was also forced to flee and took the children to Lubumbashi, in the south. It was not until six months ago that Jazmin managed to discover where they were. She later contacted the ICRC in Goma to request its help reuniting her family, which the organization agreed to do on 22 October.

Arranging for Jazmin’s children to return home was part of a vast family-reunification operation carried out between 8 and 30 October. During this period, an ICRC DC-3 made six flights between Goma and the capital Kinshasa, transporting a total of 121 children (84 from Goma to Kinshasa and 37 in the other direction). Family reunifications are organized in all of the country’s provinces on a strictly voluntary basis. Since the beginning of the year, the ICRC has already reunited nearly 900 children with their parents.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Elizabeth Twinch, ICRC Goma, tel.: +250 0830 0461  

 Alec Guichard, ICRC Bukavu, tel.: +250 0830 0451