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2009.03.11

* UNICEF Deputy Executive Director calls for release of DRC children in conflict.
* 시간: 03 min 42 secs
* 촬영도시: Rutshuru & Goma
* 촬영국가: Congo
* 시간: 01 Feb 2009


As joint military operations between Congolese and Rwandan troops drew to a close in the volatile Eastern DRC, UNICEF deputy executive director, Ms Hilde Johnson visited the area.


Ms Johnson travelled North from the regional capital Goma to the town of Rutshuru, which, until recently, was under rebel control. The rebels have now disbanded, some integrating into the regular army, but still those displaced by the fighting remain in camps, huddled up against a UN peacekeeping base.


Here UNICEF, Solidarities and other partners provide plastic sheeting for shelter, food, latrines and clean water, vital to staving off the ever-present threat of cholera. But it's not enough as this woman explains to Ms Johnson.

Life in a camp is tough and although the fragile peace is holding, it's still too soon to leave, there have been too many failed ceasefires here, too many failed promises of peace.


SOUNDBITE: Hilde Johnson, Deputy Executive Director, UNICEF:
"She was saying I might as well die, I've been through these horrors and I can't stand it anymore, she was really depressed, and she had the sole responsibility for 4 children. This camp is completely packed, I have been to many IDP camps, I mean many camps for displaced, many refugee camps in my life, but I have hardly seen anything like
this."


Ms Johnson also visited a UNICEF supported school near the camp. All the children here have been displaced, missing out on months of schooling, they are now trying desperately to catch up.


Speaking in Swahili, the local language, Ms Johnson asked the kids about their experiences.

This young girl fled with little more than the clothes on her back.


SOUNDBITE: Gaboua, 14 years old
"The fighting was so close to our homes, people were dyeing and we had no food so we ran away from the rebels."


But these are the lucky ones; these are the ones who got away. Since 2004, UNICEF has assisted in demobilizing and reintegrating around 30 000 children across the country, but an estimated 3500 are still with armed groups.

Ms Johnson called for their unconditional release.


SOUNDBITE: Hilde Johnson, Deputy Executive Director, UNICEF:
"The major issue for us now is to make sure that the children that are still with the combatants CNDP and other rebel groups in the area, they have to immediately release the children, we have to make sure the children are demobilized, get back to their community and are reintegrated."


Back in Goma, Ms Johnson, who is co-chairing UN Action

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