Enhanced Interactive Dialogue on Report of the UNHCHR on the DRC and Final Report of Experts on Kasaï

Human Rights Council 48th Session

5 October 2021

 

Enhanced Interactive Dialogue on Report of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights on the Democratic Republic of Congo and Final Report of Experts on Kasaï

Madam President,

World Vision commends the work of the team of international experts providing technical assistance to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and accountability concerning the events in the Kasaï regions mandated over the last three years. While some progress has been made in the Kasaï and other provinces of the DRC (noted by a three per cent decrease in human rights violations and abuses documented since the previous period, as reported by the UN), World Vision remains concerned for the well-being and protection of girls, boys, women, and men living in situations of despair, conflict, and humanitarian need, particularly as nearly half of the violations reported (46 per cent) were committed by State Officials, members of the Armed Forces of the DRC, and officers of the Congolese National Police.

Provinces of Ituri, North Kivu, South Kivu, and Tanganyika continue to be affected by conflict. Such conflict is marked by attacks against civilians by armed groups, ongoing displacement and population movement, protection incidents and violations, the existence of unaccompanied and separated children, recruitment of children into state and non-state armed groups, children in conflict with the law and in detention, and deep-rooted and harmful beliefs against girls and boys referred to as ‘wizard children’ who live in the streets.

To address the security and conflict situation, a state of siege was declared in the provinces of Ituri and North Kivu in May 2021 for an initial period of 30 days; as of September, the state of siege has been renewed for a seventh time, increasing concern for the human rights situation, given the reports of violence committed by state actors. For example, while conflict-related sexual violence reports decreased since the last reporting period, members of the Armed Forces of the DRC and the Congolese National Police continue to be the main perpetrators. In South Ubangi, where World Vision is working to respond to the humanitarian needs of refugees from the Central African Republic, as well as Congolese host communities, the prevalence of early and forced marriage and sexual violence, including rape of minors, particularly young girls, remains concerning and in violation of human rights laws. World Vision, alongside other humanitarian actors, expressed concern over the sexual violence trends in the DRC during the 46th Session of the Human Rights Council, and called for strengthened protection systems, including life-saving assistance for survivors of gender-based violence who lack access to a complete referral pathway, including access to justice services – a recommendation that continues to stand firm today.

The education needs of girls and boys in the DRC remains troubling. While Article 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child – of which the Government of the DRC is a signatory state – articulate the right of children and young people to access education, regardless of race, gender, ability, or state (refugee, in detention, etc.) – policies to provide free public primary education have only recently (in September 2019) been adapted. Enrollment rates, particularly in urban settings for girls are concerning, with the World Bank reporting only 24 per cent of rural girls who enter the school system reaching grade 12, compared to 69 per cent of urban boys. Weaknesses in service delivery, capacity of national instruction, availability and access of education structures and resources, harmful gender-based cultural beliefs and practices, among others, and compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic highlight the paramount needs to meet and gaps to fill.

World Vision calls on the Government of DRC, Member States, and the International Community to:

  • Strengthen efforts to promote an equitable and gender-transformative education system in the DRC, which address availability, access, and capacity of stakeholders, including families and communities, teachers, local ministries, and relevant policies to support positive change;
  • Strengthen comprehensive protection systems, including life-saving assistance for survivors of gender-based violence, and ensure all cases of sexual violence are investigated, perpetrators are prosecuted, and if found guilty, punished to the extent of national and human rights laws;
  • Fulfill the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, paying particular attention to children in conflict with the law and in detention, providing immediate legal services to these children, and more so, closing unofficial places of detention, ensuring that all children, women, and men detained enjoy fundamental legal safeguards;
  • Take all necessary measures to combat and end impunity for perpetrators of human rights violations; and,
  • Continue to provide financial and political support for humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding initiatives, particularly in light of a consistently underfunded Humanitarian Response Plan.

Thank you.