Democratic Republic of Congo

Helping victims of extreme violence get back on their feet in DR Congo's Ituri province

In the first six months of 2020 alone, nine massacres were recorded in the areas of Djugu and Mahagi in DR Congo's Ituri province. The atrocities were accompanied by continuous attacks, ambushes, and lootings carried out by the numerous armed groups operating in the area. With the technical and financial support of EU Humanitarian Aid, DRC was able to help communities develop coping strategies and start rebuilding their lives.

While many people around the world will remember 2020 as the year the Covid-19 pandemic destabilised their lives; Sifa, Chantal, and Maman Silué - residents in the Ituri province – look back at a year of deadly conflict and extreme violence.

Sifa is an adolescent girl who dreams of a normal life. A year ago, she fled her home when armed groups attacked her village and her family lost everything. She now lives with a host family, who are helping her to get back on her feet. DRC has provided psychological support and helped her return to school where she has made new friends.

Gender-based violence leaves communities emotionally devastated

In Djugu territory, the wounds are still deep and fresh from the violence. Chantal is busy caring for her daughter's new-born baby. Her daughter is still trying to recover from the trauma of being raped by an armed assailant while fleeing violence in Ituri.

This rape left her pregnant.

Unfortunately, Chantal’s daughter’s situation is not unusual. In 2020 alone, DRC supported more than 90 women and girls raped in similar circumstances. Still today, little or no attention has been paid to the traumatic consequences of these violent acts which have caused - and continue to cause - emotional devastation to many people in the community.

A personal motivation

Maman Silué is a project manager with DRC and is managing the implementation of the EU Humanitarian Aid-funded efforts to help victims of armed conflict regain their dignity, resilience, and independence. Her reasons for doing this work are very personal:

"When I was young, I was almost raped. I was scared. I wanted to drop out of school. My father supported me, and all my life, I tried to defend myself. Now I want to defend other women and girls," she says.

Through the project, nearly 400 men and women who have experienced traumatic events, have been supported by DRC’s teams. More than 3,000 children have also benefited from this project.

This has come in the form of psychosocial support - through direct intervention, social interaction or provided through child-friendly spaces – which are essential for creating a safe environment for healing, play and, forgiveness.

When I was young, I was almost raped. I was scared. I wanted to drop out of school. My father supported me, and all my life, I tried to defend myself. Now I want to defend other women and girls.

Maman Silué, Project Manager, DRC in DR Congo.

Multi-generational repercussions

Working in areas across the world plagued by armed conflict and extreme violence, DRC often sees how the mental health of individuals and the resilience of communities is undermined.

Without a strong commitment to enable individuals and communities to rebuild themselves, violence and its consequences are likely to decimate the lives of many and the repercussions are multi-generational.

In Fataki, in DR Congo, Maman Silué meets men, women and children traumatised by violence every day. The psychosocial and financial support offered by DRC to affected families enables them to cope with the traumas as they aspire to rehabilitate themselves and their wider communities.

Through her work, Maman Silué also incorporates her personal passion, being a grandmother of four, three of which are girls. Her involvement in the protection and rights of girls lends her the sense of also doing something important for them

Together with the DRC team and the persons of concern, Maman Silué also works to raise awareness about women and children's rights.