DR Congo: Children's fears reflect conflict's horrors

By Simon Rawles
Jan 14, 2014

Children displaced by conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo live in fear, even as government and rebel groups negotiate peace, a new World Vision report reveals. More than one-third of children interviewed say they're scared all the time or at some point each day. More than a third also report having experienced or witnessed violence in eastern DRC. Many lost family members. Most live in makeshift camps. Hunger, loneliness, disease, and fear for one’s safety are a constant companion. They share their fears and struggles.

© 2013 Simon Rawles for World Vision International
Mariamu, 14, in Mugunga 1 camp (the oldest camp near Goma) – “Life was good. We had food from the farm and a nice home. We had goats and chickens, and I was able to go to school. Now it's very hard. Living in the camp for a girl is not good because when you do not have anything to eat, you can easily become a prostitute. To buy food, I go to collect firewood in the bush. It is not good because sometimes they chase us. Some of us are caught and raped or wounded.”
© 2013 Simon Rawles for World Vision International
Kakule, 15, in Bulengo camp, Goma – “When I am scared, I don’t go to my parents because they are afraid like me.”
© 2013 Simon Rawles for World Vision International
Aimee, 14, in Bulengo camp, Goma – “I fled because there was so much shooting. People were dying in the village. I think about my parents a lot because when we were at home, we were eating well, dressing well, and the children were happy. But when the children ask me about their mother, I cry.”
© 2013 Simon Rawles for World Vision International
Moise, 10, in Mugunga 1 camp – “Sometimes I am afraid people may come and attack us at night.”
© 2013 Simon Rawles for World Vision International
Dieumerci, 15, in Mugunga 1 camp – “The war killed my Mum when we were fleeing. She was killed by a bullet, and now I live with the people we fled with. They saw what happened and took me with them. The women who are hosting me are tired of me. They are rejecting me now.”
© 2013 Simon Rawles for World Vision International
Kibibi, 13, in Mugunga 1 camp – “I don't feel safe without a family and [with] no parents. I want someone to help take care of my little sister.”
© 2013 Simon Rawles for World Vision International
Eliya, 15, in Sake town– “Our village is empty now. The houses there no longer exist — all have been destroyed. Rebels are controlling the area. We don’t have shoes, and every time we run, we lose everything. We need people to help us. The people who decide what happens here are very far away. Not even in our country. We always wait for peace, but it never comes. We think of peace, but it never comes. To those decision-makers we ask them to bring us peace so we can try to fight for the development of our country. We have to work together; then we can have peace.”
© 2013 Simon Rawles for World Vision International
Honorata, 10, in Mugunga 1 camp – “Armed men attacked. They were burning houses in the village and burnt our house. I ran with my sister, while the parents gathered our things. A bomb hit the house and killed our parents. We had a good life. We lived on a farm, and everyone ate well. We were always poor, but we had food to eat and a house, and there was peace. Here is so difficult because there is no food, clothes, or shoes.”