DRC Child Activist Wins World Children's Prize

26/4/2011 - Murhabazi Namegabe, who has rescued thousands of child soldiers and sex slaves from armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been awarded the presitgious international award.

A former child soldier from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been awarded an international children’s rights prize.

Murhabazi Namegabe was awarded this year’s World's Children's Prize by 3.2 million children across the globe who voted for him. Mr. Namegabe has been working tirelessly to free child soldiers and sex slaves in his home country.

Mr. Namegabe  has been working in the field since 1989. Since 1992, he has continued in his child protection mission with his organization, Bureau pour le Volontariat au Service de l’Enfance et de la Sante (BVES) – in English, the Office of Voluntary Service for Childhood and Health. A total of 4,000 child soldiers have been rescued. More than 4,500 girls have been freed from a life marked by continual sexual assault and rape.

The group also takes care of 4,600 unaccompanied minors. Unaccompanied minors are children under the age of 18 (or other legal age of majority) who have been separated from both of their parents and are without care by an adult legally entitled to care for them.

When all is considered, Mr. Namegabe’s organization has helped more than 60,000 war-affected and vulnerable children.

Homes and schools have provided these children with “food, clothes, a home, heathcare, therapy, the opportunity to go to school, security and love,” said the prize jury of the Children's World Association, which awards the prize every year. The association is based in Mariefred, Sweden.

The work Mr. Namegabe undertakes is both important and incredibly dangerous – making him extraordinarily courageous. His life is constantly under threat. He has been imprisoned, physically assaulted and received multiple death threats. Seven of Mr. Namegabe’s brave colleagues have lost their lives.

The award ceremony will be held on Thursday. Sweden's Queen Silvia will present the award to Mr. Namegabe. Honourary Awards will be handed out to Filipino anti-child labour activist Cecilia Flore-Oebanda and Bangladeshi Monira Rahman, who works with victims of acid attacks.

Ms. Flore-Oebanda, who has influenced legislation in the Philippines, has also received death threats from human traffickers. Ms. Rahman’s work has help to halve the number of acid attacks in Bangladesh.

The total prize money is worth about US$100,000 that will help the laureates continue in their important work. Mr. Namegabe, Ms. Flore-Oebanda and Ms. Rahman are three remarkable role models for today’s 2.2 billion children.