Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

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UN peacekeepers near the city centre in Goma, May 2018

The UN has acknowledged that peacekeeper babies exist. However, there is currently no reliable data about how many children (globally or in the DRC) have been fathered by UN peacekeeping personnel, and it is clear that UN policies and support programmes are woefully inadequate.

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Team training with SOFEPADI, MARAKUJA, University of Birmingham, York University and Queen’s University, Goma May 2018

This multidisciplinary collaboration will address three specific objectives: i) Interdisciplinary research to create knowledge on life courses of peace babies and their mothers in DRC with a view of identifying key determinants of positive and negative outcomes in terms of social, economic, physical and mental well-being, ii) Advance policy and programming around the issue of peace babies by providing empirical data about their needs and experiences to the UN, to the militaries of troop contributing countries and to the governments of host countries, and iii) Improve the integration of peace babies into Congolese society by disseminating research results to the Congolese government, non-governmental aid organizations, human and women’s rights civil society organizations and the general public, in order to effect change.

This project proposes an in-depth-study on the challenges and life courses of peace babies conceived by the world’s largest peacekeeping mission, Mission de l' Organisation des Nations Unies pour la Stabilisation en République Démocratique du Congo (MONUSCO).

 

MONUSCO has been associated with allegations of mass SEA, with over half of those allegations involving girls under the age of 18 and 13% of cases allegedly involving rape. As an unintended legacy of MONUSCO, children fathered by UN personnel are not absorbed easily into Congolese society, which frowns upon women who bear children out of wedlock, especially children conceived by foreign soldiers.

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MONUSCO East Alpha base, Goma

The proposed study addresses this critical knowledge gap by:

  • Exploring the gender norms and socioeconomic, cultural and security circumstances that contribute to unequal power relations between UN personnel (military plus non-military) and local civilians;

  • Investigating the life experiences of women raising children fathered by peacekeepers and life experiences of the peace babies themselves; and

  • Analysing the lack of accountability of the UN and its personnel for children fathered by UN personnel by scrutinizing the legal frameworks governing this accountability

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Example of a SenseMaker triad question
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Team members from MARAKUJA, York University, University of Birmingham, Queen’s University at the end of training, Goma May 2018

Six UN bases in eastern DRC were selected based on available data regarding the sizes, troop and police contributing country staffing, years of operation, and geographic variation to represent the north and south as well as urban and rural regions.

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DRC interview sites
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SOFEPADI, is a Congolese national organisation that works for the defence and promotion of rights of women and families.
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Marakuja Kivu Research is a non-profit association based in Goma that focuses on conflict-affected provinces of the DRC.