UN Authority Figures

UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) Executive Board: The Democratic Republic of Congo

Photo: Children line up to be judged by a pastor (BBC3)
There are around 50,000 children being held in churches in the Democratic Republic of Congo accused of witchcraft, a BBC film team has discovered. (DR Congo's Witchcraft Epidemic: 50,000 Children Accused of Sorcery, IB Times, May 20, 2013

Mission of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF): "UNICEF is mandated by the UN General Assembly to advocate for the protection of children's rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential. UNICEF is guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child and strives to establish children's rights as enduring ethical principles and international standards of behaviour towards children. UNICEF mobilizes political will and material resources to help countries, particularly developing countries, ensure a "first call for children" and to build their capacity to form appropriate policies and deliver services for children and their families. UNICEF is committed to ensuring special protection for the most disadvantaged children - victims of war, disasters, extreme poverty, all forms of violence and exploitation and those with disabilities. UNICEF responds in emergencies to protect the rights of children. In everything it does, the most disadvantaged children and the countries in greatest need have priority." (UN Children's Fund web-site, "UNICEF's Mission Statement")

Term of office: 2013-2014

DRC's Record on Children:
"The recruitment and use of children in North Kivu, South Kivu, and Orientale provinces by RMG [rebel and militia groups] and the FARDC [national army] continued...[C]hild abuse...regularly occurred...[P]arents or other care providers sometimes abandoned or abused such children, frequently invoking "witchcraft" as a rationale, regardless of whether or not they believed their child was a "witch"...Many churches conducted exorcisms of children accused of witchcraft involving isolation, beating and whipping, starvation, and forced ingestion of purgatives...[T]here were an estimated 8.2 million orphans and vulnerable children in the country...In 2006 UNICEF and the World Bank estimated that 30,000-40,000 children lived on the streets, with the highest concentration in Kinshasa. Many of these children were forced out of their homes when their families accused them of witchcraft and bringing misfortune to their families...The government was ill equipped to deal with such large numbers of homeless children. SSF [state security forces] abused and arbitrarily arrested street children...In 2009 a group of seven UN special rapporteurs and representatives mandated by the UNHRC to assess human rights in the country deemed it "alarming" that a significant percentage of the victims of sexual violence were girls and in some cases boys. The Ministry of Gender reported that of 4,464 survivors of SGBV reporting their age in 2011, 1,214 were between the ages of 10 and 17, and 249 were younger than 10. Of the overall number, 33 percent were children." (US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2012, The Democratic Republic of Congo)