It rarely makes global headlines, but more than five million people have been killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the past 20 years.
Though the war officially ended in 2003, eastern DRC is still one of the most dangerous places on Earth, especially for children and women.
We work with authorities and communities in the DRC to put child protection laws into effect and prevent violence against children. This includes running a free helpline to provide rapid support to children at risk, and making sure their rights are respected by law enforcers.
Children in the DRC
It’s estimated there are 40,000 street children in DRC, and the number is rising.
Children end up on the street for various reasons, from widespread poverty and social issues to family breakups, but they can all be vulnerable to exploitation or violence.
Armed groups are still active in eastern Congo and are responsible for the killing of civilians, rapes and forced recruitment of children.
What we do in the DRC
War Child’s free helplines (called ‘Tukinge Watoto’ – ‘Let’s Protect Children’) are a lifeline for violently abused or mistreated children.
Children can speak directly to trained counsellors and social workers who can refer them to local child protection organisations.
In an emergency or high-risk situation children can be taken into protective care.
We’re also building the general capacity of the Congolese child protection system, strengthening detection, prevention and response to child neglect or exploitation.
We work with local partners and community networks to run campaigns raising public awareness and informing children, parents, community leaders and officials about child protection issues.
One focus is juvenile justice. We offer support to children who come into conflict with the law – a particularly vulnerable group – to make sure their rights are recognised and respected in the legal process.
We want to see children (and young mothers) kept apart from adult prisoners, and conditions improved in detention.
And we actively support young detainees being reintegrated into society after release, providing vocational training, income-generating activities, counselling and help in reconnecting families.
Education in emergencies
Keeping children in education during wars and other emergencies is a life-saving priority for children and their families. That's why we see protecting children’s right to education as a central part of our response to a crisis.
We aim to protect children from harm as well as help them to overcome the impacts that armed conflict has had on them.