Children in DRC at ‘extremely high risk’ of impacts of climate crisis: UNICEF

Congolese children are seen inside a make shift orphanage that houses children abandoned or separated from their families, in Beni, Democratic Republic of the Congo, on February 6, 2018. Fighting between Ugandan Muslim militia, the Allied Defence Forces (ADF) and local government forces in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as well as ongoing attacks by the ADF have displaced thousands people since October 2017. / AFP PHOTO / JOHN WESSELS (Photo credit should read JOHN WESSELS/AFP/Getty Images)
Internally displaced persons, including children, collect water from a broken water main in Uvira, South Kivu, DRC.PHOTO’ UNICEF/Patrick Brown

Young people living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are among those most at risk of the impacts of climate change, threatening their health, education, and protection, according to a UNICEF report launched Friday.

The report, titled “Climate Crisis Is a Child Rights Crisis: Introducing the Children’s Climate Risk Index,” ranks DRC ninth out of 33 countries globally, whose children are particularly exposed to air, soil and water pollution.

“Congolese children are well aware that climate change threatens their future, and they call on decision-makers to act now,” said Edouard Beigbeder, the UNICEF Representative in the DRC. “We must all act together in a concerted way to build a better world for all children.”

In the DRC, the young people aged 0 to 24 years represent 67.4 percent of the Congolese population, of which 48.7 percent are children under 14 years. UNICEF is committed to helping Congolese youth take action to protect their future and their planet by raising their voices and participating in the effort to combat climate change and the preservation of their environment.

To support these advocacy efforts to preserve the environment, the child reporters trained by UNICEF produced a documentary titled “Young people and climate change,” as well as a publication featuring their concerns around the environmental and climate challenges they face on a daily basis.

“We are the Congolese youth, and we are committed to defending the rights of the child for a more equal, fairer and more sustainable world,” said Ketsia, 16, a child reporter trained by UNICEF in Kinshasa. “We have rights, and we intend to defend them! We want all generations to come together to re-imagine the world of tomorrow. We must act together for the good of all.”

UNICEF also urged governments, businesses and relevant actors across the world to increase investment in climate adaptation and resilience in key services for children.

It also called on them to protect children, communities and the most vulnerable to the worst impacts of the already changing climate, adding that critical services must be adapted, including water, sanitation and hygiene systems, and health and education services.