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Democratic Republic of the Congo: 24 children reunited with their families

10-12-2009 News Release 09/246

Kinshasa/Geneva (ICRC) – Twenty-four children separated from their families in conflict zones were reunited with their loved ones today in a vast operation carried out by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and Sudan.

  ©ICRC/W. Akwat / ug-e-00320    
  Nakivale Camp, Isingiro district, Uganda. Three Congolese children from the same family prepare to board a Red Cross vehicle on their way to be reunited with their family in Rwanyamugabo, DR Congo. 
  ©ICRC/W. Akwat    
  The 17 children walk from the immigration offices at Bunagana border post to waiting ICRC vehicles on their way to being reunited with their families in the east of the DR Congo.    

In the Rutshuru territory of North Kivu, 17 unaccompanied Congolese children aged 9 to 18 who had been living for several months in refugee camps in Uganda rejoined their families. ICRC staff based in Uganda accompanied the children to the border at Bunagana, where Congo-based ICRC personnel were waiting for them.

Bizi, a 14-year-old boy, together with his two younger sisters fled the fighting in 2008 and ended up in a refugee camp in Nakivale, in the Isingiro district of Uganda. After returning to his native Congo, Bizi told the ICRC: " I don't have a Christmas gift for my mother, but I think she'll be very happy to see me and my sisters after more than a year apart. "

Three Congolese children aged 16 to 17 were met by their loved ones in the north of Orientale province today after being repatriated from Sudan in an ICRC aircraft. A fourth Congolese child was transferred within the province to Dungu, where his parents were waiting for him. In addition, three young Sudanese girls were flown from the Democratic Republic of the Congo back to their country to rejoin their families. All these children had either been separated from their families by conflict or had left the ranks of an armed group.

These family reunifications would not have been possible without the substantial tracing work carried out by volunteers of the Sudanese Red Crescent, the Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Uganda Red Cross Society. " The ICRC endeavours, in line with its mandate, and with the assistance of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, to restore and maintain contact between members of families that have been dispersed by arme d conflict or other violence, " said Franz Rauchenstein, head of the ICRC delegation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. " We make a special effort to help children, as they are especially powerless and exposed to danger in such situations. "

  For further information, please contact:
  Germain Mwehu, ICRC Goma, tel: +243 81 700 77 86
  Marçal Izard, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 58 or +41 79 217 32 24