Ben Affleck recently attended a conference in Washington, DC to discuss the improvement of child survival around the world. He joined U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, USAID Administrator Dr. Raj Shah, and a variety of other distinguished professionals from all over the world in discussing child mortality in nations around the globe. Affleck is particularly concerned with the Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to Affleck’s blog post on Huffington Post, World Bank economists reported that child mortality rates are swiftly declining across the continent of Africa. The rates are for children under 5 who are at the highest risk of malnutrition, unsanitary water conditions, and at risk of being infected with a preventable disease.
Child mortality rates in other parts of Africa have dropped dramatically in the past year. Senegal, Rwanda, and Kenya have had an 8% drop in child mortality. But the Democratic Republic of Congo is still in need of improvement. The area holds approximately 1% of the global population, yet it is responsible for over 6% of the mortality rates in children under 5 years old. The Congo has the fifth highest child mortality rate in the world.
Affleck writes, “Congo faces daunting challenges and has to negotiate colossal hurdles to save these children and provide them a hopeful future.”
He adds, “These children’s lives are further endangered today as Congo’s North Kivu province is yet again grappling with a rebellion that has displaced an estimated 200,000 Congolese internally and outside the country. In this conflict, which has indirectly killed millions of people since 1998, women and children bear the brunt of the atrocities and human rights violations. Boys and girls are abducted to serve either as fighters or sex slaves. Families that survive the fighting often face hunger, malnutrition and diseases, which reduce children’s survival prospects and deny them the potential of a promising life.”
Areas of deep conflict prevent children and families from being able to live a healthy, normal life. Rebellion and conflict in the area have militiamen occupying farmlands and creating dangerous roads, and militia strongholds make the area unsafe for children. Children and families have no access to hospitals for medicine, school for learning, or their farms for food for fear of the militiamen.
Affleck pleads that the child survival rates in the Congo are not just the problem of the Congolese. He says that the Congo conflict is “the world’s problem” and calls on donor nations to exert pressure on all pertinent actors to stop the fighting and resolve the situation as soon as possible for the sake of the children.