Congolese children trade life as miners for a chance at school

Kipushi: Lined up under a hot sun in Kipushi, a mining city in southeastern DR Congo, the children proudly clutch a piece of paper that will change their lives.

To most other people, the document -- a birth certificate -- is banal.

But to these youngsters and their poverty-stricken families, it is the passport to going to school for free.

Until recently, many of the children had been working alongside their parents in cobalt and copper ore mines, a major source of income for central Africa's troubled giant.

"When I have finished my studies, I will be president of UNICEF and lead the Congo," Yves tells AFP earnestly, referring to the UN Children's Fund, which helped his parents obtain a birth certificate 13 years after he came into the world.

Yves is still only in the fourth year of primary school, because he fell behind during years spent at the pit helping his parents.

He is one of some 500 children who have been released from the quarries after UNICEF provided school kits and financially supported administrative work carried out by a local NGO to obtain the coveted birth certificates. - AFP