Democratic Republic of the Congo/South Sudan: 61 children reunited with their families
06-02-2012 News Release 12/17
Kinshasa/Juba/Geneva (ICRC) – Sixty-one children from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and South Sudan have rejoined their families with the help of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) after being separated from them for several years.
This major operation, carried out in cooperation with the Red Cross Society of the DRC and the South Sudan Red Cross Society, was completed over the past weekend. All of the children had been separated from their families amid armed conflict or other violence in the DRC and South Sudan.
"The children spent as long as five years away from their families, often in very difficult conditions," said Despoina Spanoudi, who coordinates the ICRC's family reunification efforts in the DRC. "It's an important event for all concerned to be together again."
Conflict and other armed violence in the DRC and in South Sudan have had serious consequences, including the displacement of women and children, for thousands of civilians. Children are especially at risk of being separated from their families and recruited by armed groups.
The ICRC and the Red Cross societies of the RDC and South Sudan, making use of a network of local contacts, visit the affected areas to identify the children and to try to find out where their families live.
On 20 January, five children were flown on a specially chartered ICRC aircraft from Dungu, in the DRC's Eastern province, to Yambio, in South Sudan, where their families were waiting for them. On the return flight, four other children were taken to the Haut-Uélé district of Eastern province.
A second ICRC flight took 13 children, including a baby, from Kinshasa, Kisangani and Goma to Lubumbashi and Kananga. Thirty-two other children boarded in Mbuji-Mayi and Kananga, in the DRC's Western Kasai province, to rejoin their families in Lubumbashi and Beni, in North Kivu province. Further flights made it possible to reunite seven children with their families in Goma, Beni and Kinshasa.
In 2011, with support from the Red Cross Society of the DRC, the ICRC returned to their families in the RDC 838 unaccompanied children including over 390 former child soldiers, 34 of whom had been in neighbouring countries. The ICRC visited all the children after the reunifications to help them rejoin their communities and families. In South Sudan, the ICRC reunited 36 children with their families between July and December 2011 in cooperation with the South Sudan Red Cross.
For further information, please contact:
Yves Heller, ICRC Kinshasa, tel: +243 81 700 85 36
Ewan Watson, ICRC Juba, tel: +249 912 178 946
Marie-Servane Desjonquères, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 536 92 58