Congo, Democratic Republic of the

Background


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A peace accord in 2003 ended a vicious civil war that claimed the lives of more than 3 million people. However, armed conflict has continued in pockets of the country, especially in the east. Severe poverty, insecurity, lack of basic social services and sexual violence all continue to take a heavy toll on children.

Issues facing children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Rates of infant, under-five and maternal mortality are staggering. One in five children dies before reaching the age of five. Mothers die in childbirth in 13 out of every 1,000 deliveries.
  • Nearly one third of children are underweight. Malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies are responsible for nearly half of deaths among children under age five.
  • Vaccination rates for the most common childhood diseases are approximately 65 per cent.
  • Less than half the population has access to a safe source of clean drinking water. Less than one third has access to adequate sanitation facilities.
  • The adult HIV/AIDS prevalence rate was 4.2 per cent in 2005, a significant increase from 2004. The rate is believed to be significantly higher in areas of recent armed conflict, where sexual abuse and violence against women was widespread.
  • There are over 4 million orphaned children in the country.
  • School enrolment rates are declining. More than 4.4 million children (nearly half the school-age population) are not in school. This number includes 2.5 million girls and 400,000 displaced children.
  • Child labour is commonplace: More than a quarter of children ages 5 to 14 are working.
Activities and results for children
  • A National Council for Children has been created to strengthen and coordinate programmes to protect orphans, child soldiers, survivors of sexual abuse and other vulnerable children.
  • UNICEF and its partners have provided shelter and household items to 100,000 families affected by armed conflict and/or natural disasters. Safe water and sanitation services were extended to 200,000 people in 2005.
  • Some 86 therapeutic feeding centres provided emergency nutrition to more than 45,000 children.
  • Nearly 8 million children were immunized during a major campaign against measles.
  • UNICEF and its partners rehabilitated classrooms, trained hundreds of teachers and other non-formal educators, and distributed school supplies to 200,000 internally displaced children.
  • UNICEF worked with several local organizations to begin the process of disarming and reintegrating nearly 3,000 child soldiers.
  • More than 15,000 survivors of sexual violence received medical care and counselling. Nearly 25,000 street children and children working in mines received psychosocial care and education assistance.

 

 

Children caught in war

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