Congo, Democratic Republic of the

With DRC facing a new wave of violence, UNICEF appeals for aid to meet the needs of the internally displaced

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF DRC/2012/Nseck
The Mugunga camp for internally displaced persons in DRC. From 2009 to June 2012 an estimated 2.2 million people have been internally displaced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

GOMA, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 21 August 2012 – In July, 25-year-old Amani Kasingufu fled her home village Kibumba, near the border with Rwanda.  She and her two children found refuge at the internally displaced persons site of Kibati.  For two weeks, they slept outside, but recently received supplies for shelter.  “The plastic sheeting that I got will help in building a home and the blankets will protect my children,” she smiles.

Since the month of April, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is facing a new wave of violence.  Armed groups are involved in massacres of entire villages, mass rape, abductions, exploitation and abuse, and child recruitment and use in armed forces and groups.

“After hearing gunshots all night, we left our village,” Amani explains. “We left everything behind, walking a long time to Kibati.” Kibati is 12 kilometres from Goma, North Kivu’s provincial capital.

From 2009 to June 2012 an estimated 2.2 million people are internally displaced in the East of the country. In Kibati, thousands have settled in makeshift shelters and the displaced have occupied the local school, the church, and a nearby stadium. They lack everything, including food, water and regular shelter.

“Last night was so far the hardest, because of the pelting rain. We were standing crowded under the church-roof until morning,” Amani says.

UNICEF Image
© Credit - OCHA
On 8 August, UN Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos visited Kibati, where thousands of people displaced by conflict have settled in makeshift shelters.

Education is key, but threatened in the current situation

On 8 August, UN Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos visited Kibati to better understand the unfolding humanitarian situation. All families she met shared a similar story. “For many, this is not the first time that they have been displaced. All of them hope to see an end to the fighting. They want to return home,” she stated.

“Education is key to giving children a sense of normalcy and to protect them when affected by a crisis,” stressed Sylvie Fouet, UNICEF DRC Representative, a.i.

During the current crisis, more than 250 schools have been either looted or destroyed by armed groups or occupied by the displaced in search of shelter. This puts the beginning of the new school year at risk for 60,000 children.

Distributing the basics and raising an urgent appeal

So far, the Rapid Response to Population Movements (RRMP), a multi-sectoral emergency response program managed by UNICEF with strategic support from OCHA, has allowed humanitarian groups to meet the most critical humanitarian needs in terms of Non Food Items (NFI), education, water, hygiene and sanitation. 

UNICEF’s partners Norwegian Refugee Council and Solidarités International organized a distribution from 6-12 August. 33,500 people were provided with basic materials such as clothing, sleeping mats, blankets, cooking sets, and plastic sheeting. UNICEF, WFP and the NGO World Vision distributed 12 tons of high energetic biscuits BP5.

On 4 August, UNICEF published its Humanitarian Action Update, flagging the need to fill the funding gap of $133 million.  Out of this, $35 million is urgently needed to meet the most critical needs of women and children in DRC, including nutrition supplies, cholera prevention and response activities, education and child protection.


 

 

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