DR Congo: Japanese Ambassador visits multi-million dollar Japanese-funded UNICEF projects in eastern DRC
Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, 10 June, 2008 - The Japanese Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ambassador Kanji Kitazawa, returns to Kinshasa today at the end of a visit to review Japanese-funded projects in North and South Kivu provinces in the eastern DRC. Accompanied by UNICEF Representative Anthony Bloomberg, Ambassador Kitazawa was able to observe first hand the humanitarian situation in these two conflict-affected provinces, and to see how the generous support of the Japanese Government is contributing to UNICEF’s emergency and early recovery responses. Since 2006, the Government of Japan has provided some $16 million to UNICEF’s emergency activities in the DRC, including a recent $5 million grant to respond to the emergency in North Kivu, a vital support for the largest emergency programme in the country.
In conflict-ravaged North Kivu province, Ambassador Kitazawa visited a number of different sites where internally displaced persons (IDPs), having fled violence in their home villages, have sought refuge. Some 533,000 people have been displaced in North Kivu since December 2006, spurring one of UNICEF’s and the international community’s largest humanitarian responses in the world. Visiting official camps, spontaneous sites, and villages where internally displaced persons reside with host families, the Ambassador witnessed the complexity and scale of the crisis, as well as the challenges that persistent insecurity poses to UNICEF and other actors in responding to the acute needs of IDPs and the communities that are hosting them.
Despite these challenges, UNICEF and its partners are responding to meet the needs of children and women. In Kibumba spontaneous camp, 30km northeast of Goma, the delegation visited Japanese-supported projects that are protecting, educating and ensuring the survival of around 18,000 displaced persons. With Japanese support, UNICEF and its partners are building emergency classrooms and child-friendly spaces, both of which are crucial to protecting children, stimulating their development, and contributing to a sense of well-being and normalcy. Points d’écoutes support the identification temporary care, and reunification of children who have become separated from their families during their flight from violence. UNICEF and partners are ensuring a sufficient supply of clean water for the camp through water trucking, and are constructing emergency latrines and providing hygiene education.
“It is gratifying to see that Japanese funds are making a real difference in these people’s lives,” said Ambassador Kitazawa. “We are proud to support UNICEF’s comprehensive emergency response and to be their partner in contributing to minimizing the misery of the thousands of children and women who have been affected by the conflict.”
In South Kivu, the delegation was able to visit communities that are beginning the first stages of early recovery from conflict. Ambassador Kitazawa was introduced to “écoles assaini,”, schools where UNICEF and partners are ensuring safe water, appropriate latrine blocks for girls and boys, and promoting good hygiene practices that children will carry with them into adulthood. The delegation also visited “villages assainis”, where UNICEF has supported and worked with the local community to build public family latrines, ensure proper waste disposal, provide clean drinking water, and promote good hygiene messages to all in the community.
Japan has been a major partner of UNICEF DRC with support to nearly all major UNICEF programmes - education, immunization, nutrition, child protection, and water, sanitation, and hygiene – throughout the country. Since 2006, Japan has contributed close to US $40 million to all UNICEF DRC operations significantly improving the survival and development of Congolese children.
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