What future? Street children in the Democratic Republic of Congo

What future? Street children in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Situation report of street children in the DRC

This document reports on the situation of children living on the streets in cities of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Key findings include:

  • many street children live in fear of the very state forces charged to protect them. The testimonies from children interviewed revealed a common pattern of routine abuse by police, soldiers, and members of the military police
  • the police routinely arrest street children when crimes are committed in areas where they are known to gather. While it is true that street children are sometimes involved in crimes, the police often hold them collectively responsible for crimes or knowledgeable about the events or the perpetrators
  • civilians also exploit street children. They employ children as porters, vendors, cleaners, or labourers in homes and stores, often paying them little money for long hours and physically demanding work
  • two additional and interrelated factors are helping to fuel the increasing numbers of street children: the abuse and abandonment of children accused of sorcery, and the impact of HIV and AIDS on families and children affected by or infected with the virus.

Recommendations to the DRC government for the pre and post election period include:

  • protect street children during the electoral period
  • ensure that law enforcement personnel, when policing political demonstrations, respect the right to peaceful protest
  • together with international child protection agencies, launch a national awareness campaign that addresses violence and abuse against children accused of sorcery
  • launch an HIV and AIDS prevention and awareness campaign that specifically refutes the belief that sorcery is a vehicle for transmission of the virus
  • finalise and enact the draft code of child protection currently under review
  • prioritise primary education for every child in the DRC.