UNICEF Democratic Republic of the Congo - Pour les Medias - Rhadika Coomaraswamy’s mission in the DRC

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Rhadika Coomaraswamy’s mission in the DRC

Following Rhadika Coomaraswamy’s mission in the DRC, UNICEF wants commitments to become reality.
Kinshasa, 24 April 2009 – Last week’s mission of Rhadika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict, proved to be an opportunity to obtain numerous commitments from high level partners she has met. UNICEF now wants these words to become a reality.
« Ms. Coomaraswamy’s message is clear: impunity must be cease immediately et concrete measures must be taken without delay, at all levels of the society, to ensure the safety of Congolese children and to guarantee the protection of children’s fundamental human rights, » states Pierrette Vu Thi, UNICEF’s Representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
« UNICEF has been asked to play a strategic role within some committees and working groups and we intend to see that concrete actions will be implemented in order to make these commitments a reality, » she added.
Ms. Vu Thi says that, throughout her visit in Goma, Masisi, Dungu and Bukavu, the Special Representative assessed progress achieved to date, and more specifically the recent opportunity provided through the reintegration process. She has carefully listened to all testimonies given by the children she has met, boys and girls of all ages, who told her how they suffered from the horrible violations of their rights.
The Special Representative was also moved by the statement of Delegates from the Children’s Parliament who provided her with a comprehensive list of violations of the rights of Congolese children, from exploitation at work, to lack of access to social services and education, to forced recruitment by armed groups and forces, to lack of political will and appropriate financial resources.
Ms. Coomaraswamy was inspired by their testimonies when she later strongly pleaded to national, provincial and local authorities, as well as to all humanitarian actors, for immediate implementation of concrete actions to ensure the safety of children and their protection against abuse and exploitation, including sexual violence noting that 47% of the victims were children.
« It is now essential to make sure that the Special Representative’s has been well received and understood », concludes Pierrette Vu Thi while reaffirming that specific requests were made, including the appointment of a special emissary within the Presidency.  Those requests were also comprised of the development by the Ministry of Defense of an Action Plan to ensure the identification and release of children, implementation of preventive measures and access for monitoring and verification as part of the accelerated integration process of the CNDP and other armed groups into the DRC armed Forces (FARDC), as well as directives to be issued by military authorities. UNICEF DRC stands ready to provide its support to these actions.
UNICEF and its protection partners are now looking forward to commitments being transformed into actions in favour of all Congolese children who have already suffered enough.
For more information, please contact: Joyce Brandful, UNICEF DRC +243 0815 18 80 40
Robert B. Lussier, UNICEF Goma/+243 0818 30 59 33



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