• Text size Normal size text | Increase text size by 10% | Increase text size by 20% | Increase text size by 30%

Congolese refugee boy wins international peace award for running radio programme

News Stories, 4 December 2009

© UNHCR/R.Beusker
A proud Baruani Ndume holds the International Children' s Peace Prize as Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai looks on.

THE HAGUE, Netherlands, December 4 (UNHCR) A 16-year-old Congolese boy has been awarded the annual International Children's Peace Prize for producing a radio programme for children in a Tanzanian refugee camp.

Baruani Ndume, who is an orphan, was handed the prize by Kenyan Nobel Peace laureate Wangari Maathai during an event on Thursday in The Hague, political capital of the Netherlands. Guests included Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and UNHCR Regional Representative for Western Europe Wilbert van Hövell.

The prize, organized by the Dutch foundation, KidsRights, is awarded to a child "whose courageous or otherwise remarkable acts have made a difference in countering problems which affect children around the world." It comes with a cash purse of 100,000 euros to be spent on projects related to the winner's work.

The jury found that Ndume, programme coordinator for the "Children for Children" show in Tanzania's Lugufu Refugee Camp, had, "under the most impossible circumstances ... chosen to champion the rights of other children."

The radio progamme focuses on education for children with difficulties as well as on family reunification. It has helped parents in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) trace children they were separated from. "Boys and girls with stories similar to mine could not easily express themselves and were keeping their pain inside," Ndume said. "Our radio programme makes them feel less alone."

Ndume was born in the DRC's South Kivu province. His father died when he was four, while his mother and younger brother were murdered when conflict erupted once more in the region in 1998. Soldiers herded the family and other villagers into a house before torching it. "As I was small, I managed to escape through a little hole in the wall," he recalled.

Another villager took Ndume in hand and they made their way across Lake Tanganyika to Tanzania. In Lugufu, he received assistance from UNHCR and the agency's partners, including education and health care.

Ndume kept his past bottled up until one day in April last year. "I approached the UNHCR partner organization World Vision, which was running a radio programme called 'Child Voice Out,' I was selected among other refugee children and started as a young journalist for this programme broadcast every Sunday," he explained.

Meanwhile, Ndume is optimistic about the future and does not dwell on the past. "I hope to go to university one day and become a journalist," he revealed.

Almost half of the millions of forcibly displaced people helped by UNHCR around the world are aged under 18.

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

Children

Almost half the people of concern to UNHCR are children. They need special care.

Refworld – Children

This Special Feature on Child Protection is a comprehensive source of relevant legal and policy documents, practical tools and links to related websites.

DR Congo Crisis: Urgent Appeal

Intense fighting has forced more than 64,000 Congolese to flee the country in recent months.

Donate to this crisis

Finding a Home on Ancestral Land

Somali Bantu refugees gaining citizenship in Tanzania

Related Internet Links

UNHCR is not responsible for the content and availability of external internet sites

Iraqi Children Go To School in Syria

UNHCR aims to help 25,000 refugee children go to school in Syria by providing financial assistance to families and donating school uniforms and supplies.

There are some 1.4 million Iraqi refugees living in Syria, most having fled the extreme sectarian violence sparked by the bombing of the Golden Mosque of Samarra in 2006.

Many Iraqi refugee parents regard education as a top priority, equal in importance to security. While in Iraq, violence and displacement made it difficult for refugee children to attend school with any regularity and many fell behind. Although education is free in Syria, fees associated with uniforms, supplies and transportation make attending school impossible. And far too many refugee children have to work to support their families instead of attending school.

To encourage poor Iraqi families to register their children, UNHCR plans to provide financial assistance to at least 25,000 school-age children, and to provide uniforms, books and school supplies to Iraqi refugees registered with UNHCR. The agency will also advise refugees of their right to send their children to school, and will support NGO programmes for working children.

UNHCR's ninemillion campaign aims to provide a healthy and safe learning environment for nine million refugee children by 2010.

Iraqi Children Go To School in Syria

The Children of Harmanli Face a Bleak Winter

Since the Syrian crisis began in March 2011, more than 2 million people have fled the violence. Many have made their way to European Union countries, finding sanctuary in places like Germany and Sweden. Others are venturing into Europe by way of Bulgaria, where the authorities struggle to accommodate and care for some 8,000 asylum-seekers, many of whom are Syrian. More than 1,000 of these desperate people, including 300 children, languish in an overcrowded camp in the town of Harmanli, 50 kilometres from the Turkish-Bulgarian border. These people crossed the border in the hope of starting a new life in Europe. Some have travelled in family groups; many have come alone with dreams of reuniting in Europe with loved ones; and still others are unaccompanied children. The sheer number of people in Harmanli is taxing the ability of officials to process them, let alone shelter and feed them. This photo essay explores the daily challenges of life in Harmanli.

The Children of Harmanli Face a Bleak Winter

Erbil's Children: Syrian Refugees in Urban Iraq

Some of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees are children who have sought shelter in urban areas with their families. Unlike those in camps, refugees living in towns and cities in countries like Iraq, Turkey and Jordan often find it difficult to gain access to aid and protection. In a refugee camp, it is easier for humanitarian aid organizations such as UNHCR to provide shelter and regular assistance, including food, health care and education. Finding refugees in urban areas, let alone helping them, is no easy task.

In Iraq, about 100,000 of the 143,000 Syrian refugees are believed to be living in urban areas - some 40 per cent of them are children aged under 18 years. The following photographs, taken in the northern city of Erbil by Brian Sokol, give a glimpse into the lives of some of these young urban refugees. They show the harshness of daily life as well as the resilience, adaptability and spirit of young people whose lives have been overturned in the past two years.

Life is difficult in Erbil, capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The cost of living is high and it is difficult to find work. The refugees must also spend a large part of their limited resources on rent. UNHCR and its partners, including the Kurdish Regional Government, struggle to help the needy.

Erbil's Children: Syrian Refugees in Urban Iraq

Uganda: A Father's TroublesPlay video

Uganda: A Father's Troubles

Forty-five-year-old Gabriel fled South Sudan with his wife and children to find safety in the UN compound in Bor. But, in April 2014, his wife was killed when an armed mob forced their way in, and now he is a single father to five children, seeking a better life in Uganda.
Ethiopia: Far From Home Play video

Ethiopia: Far From Home

Nyabuka Lam arrived in Pagak, Ethiopia in September after escaping armed men who shot her three children and husband back in her home country, South Sudan. After walking for 15 days to reach the safety of Pagak, she is now finally on a path to recovery.
South Sudan: Grandma Abuk's ChildrenPlay video

South Sudan: Grandma Abuk's Children

Years of violence and bloodshed in South Sudan robbed Abuk of her seven children. When fighting returned last year, the old lady fled anew with her grandchildren, hampered by deteriorating eyesight.