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Mothers of Congo’s lost children break silence

Thousands of children are thought to be missing as DR Congo’s displacement crisis deepens.

Augustine hasn’t seen her six-year-old daughter in over a year. She has steeled herself for the worst. “There is no hope,” she says. “I will never see my daughter again.” Displaced by fighting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Tanganyika province, Augustine is now living at a site for internally displaced people in the provincial capital, Kalemie. She’s one of many anxious and grieving parents here.

“The rebels come into our villages, they take our children and disappear with them,” she says. “They rape the girls and cut them in small pieces with machetes.”

Fifty-two-year-old Ndiba Kaité counts herself among the lucky few. Her five teenage daughters were kidnapped in December 2016 and held captive for five months in the bush, where they were starved, beaten and abused.

“The day I found my children I was happy, because most of those who were abducted never came back.”

Ndiba led a desperate search to find her missing children. Eventually, with help from aid groups, she was able to negotiate their release. But the severe physical and psychological trauma her daughters endured haunts them still.

“When I found them, they were in a terrible state,” she said. “They were so thin. Their feet were wounded. Their colour had changed. Their eyes were filled with sadness. But the day I found my children I was happy, because most of those who were abducted never came back.”

Faiza, 31, says her children were kidnapped – and probably killed – when their village came under attack. © UNHCR/Colin Delfosse

Source: http://www.unhcr.org

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