Working in the DRC/war children and the need for psychological assistance

Un collègue de la section politique de l’ambassade des Pays-Bas en RDC a dernièrement visité le Kasaï-Central en compagnie Carter Center qui exécute un projet financé par notre ambassade. Ce projet concerne la protection des défenseurs de droits de l‘homme. Il se dégage aussi de cette visite, la nécessité de prendre en charge psychologiquement les élèves autrefois associés au groupe armé Kamwina Nsapu qui avait semé la violence au centre du pays. La suite de cet article est en anglais.

With the project “ Advancing Human Rights in the Kasai provinces”, NL through a Carter Center project contributes to reduce Human Rights abuses and protect Human Rights defenders in the Kasai-Central Province, a region which suffered from a bloody conflict between the Army and the Customary Chief Kamwina Nsapu’s militia in 2016 and 2017. The Kasai region lies in the center of the country and its population is among the poorest in the DRC.

From 11 to 14 June 2019, colleague Claude Kyanza and The Carter Center visited Kananga, the capital city of the Kasai-Central Province as well as the remote Bilomba village to monitor a project aimed at protecting Human Right activists and training them in this post-conflict region. The Carter Center was and still is one of few international HR organizations in the Kasai’s.

70 HR activists have been trained since the start of this project how to monitor HR violations. They were also trained to use an alert system called “Nemo” when an activist is in danger. A rapid reaction fund for Human Right activists and journalists in danger is already helping to relocate HR defenders or support those who are hiding.

Massive Human right violations followed when sympathizers of a prominent Customary Chief Kamuina Nsapu decided to rebel against the Congolese state after the Army had killed their chief. More than 3 thousands people lost their lives in a short period and 1,4 million people were displaced. The security situation has improved since, but remains fragile as poverty is rampant and tribal tensions are easily manipulated by politicians.

In addition there is serious concern about the 1000’s of (very young) children that have fighting within this militia. Their presence in school is a source of fear for other children. The Catholic Church in its meeting with colleague Kyanza called for psychological care for these children, something that is hardly available in the Kasai’s. Another example of the relevance of the recent conference #mhpss, #mindthemindnow, organized by the Netherlands on 7 and 8 October.