KINSHASA, 7 August 2012 – UNICEF today expressed its deep concern for vulnerable people, especially women and children, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where an estimated 1 million children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition including some 820,000 who lack access to treatment.
Global acute malnutrition prevalence among children often equals or exceeds the emergency threshold of 15 per cent in non-conflict-affected areas of Kasai Oriental, Kasai Occidental, Equateur and Bandundu.
An estimated 200,000 children aged 59 months or younger die every year from the consequences of malnutrition, said UNICEF as it released its updated Humanitarian Action Report for DRC on needs in 2012.
Recent waves of violence in North Kivu increased the need for health care, water and sanitation, protection, education, food and shelter at a time when humanitarian workers have difficulty reaching those in need.
In the East, the number of displaced has reached its highest level since 2009 with nearly 2.2 million people – including 1.1 million children under the age of 18 – internally displaced by armed conflict and insecurity.
There have been disturbing reports of recruitment of children by armed groups who benefit from instability in the region, and 258 schools in North Kivu have been looted or burned. The return to school scheduled for September is at risk for nearly 60,000 children.
The resurgence of outbreaks of disease is another source of deep concern. Over 20,000 cases of cholera and 481 deaths were recorded since January, with 66 per cent of patients being children.
UNICEF urgently needs $35.2 million to meet the most critical needs of children in emergency-affected areas through the end of 2012, and $98 million to deliver a comprehensive response across all sectors.
"We must make every effort to protect children, everywhere and always," said UNICEF Representative a.i. Sylvie Fouet. "Whatever the circumstances, their right to live and thrive must be respected."
UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
For more information, please contact:
Nona Zicherman, Urgence UNICEF DRC,
Tel + 243 99 100 63 03,
Cornelia Walther,Communication UNICEF DRC,
Tel + 243 (0) 81 884 676