Efforts to improve their
circumstances are hampered not least because many of the children have
difficulty in attending school as birth certificates are required for school
enrolment. Few have such documents as their very lifestyle is outside of
such societal norms. As such, despite education being compulsory, just over
one in three indigenous children between the ages of 12-15 attend school
compared with a national average of 61%.
The government launched an
action plan in 2009 to help these children, however the challenges faced are
reflected in the targets set to be achieved by 2013; 50% of indigenous
children receiving education, 60% having access to HIV/AIDS prevention and
health care services, and 90% being registered with the state.
The government has recently been
criticised for failing to monitor its borders for illegal people trafficking. As
such, the Republic of Congo is a recognised source and destination country for
the trafficking of children for sexual exploitation and forced labour. There is
also a thriving internal market for the trafficking of children, with children
from rural areas forced into commercial sexual activities, domestic servitude
and street vending.
Many of these children end up on the streets with the problem being
particularly high in the country's capital of Brazzaville, where there are
an estimated two thousand children sleeping rough.
Children particularly vulnerable to living on the streets are the 7-10% of
the child population with disabilities as they are socially excluded, rarely
attend school and are thus ill equipped to find employment, making life on
the streets more inevitable.
Despite these wide ranging concerns, the transitional
government is making some progress on the Convention on the Rights of the Child
and has recently enacted laws on child protection. The government has also been
overseeing a program to ensure that all children have a birth certificate to
prove their nationality.
Of the Republic of Congo's 1,716,000 children,
69,000 have been orphaned by AIDS
and a further 6,600 are infected themselves. 26% of children under the age of
five are chronically malnourished whilst 47% have a vitamin A deficiency, with
33% having an iron deficiency.
face risks of infections of diseases such as bacterial and protozoa diarrhoea,
hepatitis A and typhoid fever as well as rabies and Malaria, the latter
accounting for 35% of all child deaths in hospitals in Brazzaville and Pointe
Noire. Life expectancy for all children in the Republic of Congo is around
The video (above
right) shows some rural children from Congo Brazzaville at play.