Children under attack in escalating conflict in eastern DRC
UNICEF condemns latest attacks involving children in conflict-affected North Kivu
GOMA, 25 JUNE 2022 – UNICEF expresses grave concern over this week’s armed attacks on civilians in the Ruthsuru Territory, North Kivu, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which have resulted in the death of four children.
More than 158,000 people, half of which are children under 18 years have been displaced in the territories of Ruthsuru and Nyiragongo in North Kivu since the intensification of armed clashes at the end of March this year. Some people have fled to Uganda, while others have sought shelter in churches, schools and other makeshift accommodations in other locations in the Ruthsuru Territory.
Approximately 41,000 children aged 3-17 years who are currently displaced in Ruthsuru have seen their education interrupted in addition to the nearly 29,000 children not attending school anymore as these are used as shelter by the displaced people. It is estimated that 652 children have been separated from their parents and caregivers since March 2022.
UNICEF strongly condemns the continued loss of innocent lives in this new resurgence of violence in North Kivu and calls on warring parties to seek an end to the fighting, ensure unrestricted humanitarian access to the affected areas, and abide by their international obligations to immediately end violations against children.
“Children and their families fleeing this terrifying escalation of violence in North Kivu are desperate for safety, shelter, food and water. Children are being traumatized by the violence they are witnessing all around them and are in need of psychosocial care. Despite the difficulty humanitarian actors are facing accessing the affected areas due to unpredictable security situation, UNICEF and its partners have been able to provide first line response to the displaced families and we are scaling up our assistance,” said Jean Metenier, UNICEF Senior Coordination for Eastern DRC.
Since April, UNICEF and partners have been responding to the needs of people displaced by armed conflict in Ruthsuru, and has so far:
- Provided WASH kits and non-food items to 6,300 displaced people in the villages of Mungo, Kabingo, Miusezero and Kinoni in the Rwanguba Health Zone;
- Identified 478 children separated from their families, of which 355 were reunited with their caregivers and 123 were placed in host families;
- Provided drinking water to 30,000 people in three displacement sites in Nyiragongo territory, built 220 emergency latrines and 100 showers, and distributed 1,000 WASH kits that include one jerrycan, two buckets, soap and water treatment tablets, reaching more than 38,000 people;
- Deployed 242 rapid cholera responses in area where cases have been recorded, and distributed cholera prevention kits (water treatment products, soap, oral rehydration solutions, one jerrycan and two buckets) to 1,764 households;
- Provided 400 cartons of PlumpyNut to treat 500 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition.
As part of its wider programme in the Ruthsuru Territory, UNICEF will reach approximately 900 students , with temporary learning spaces, school supplies, hygiene and menstrual kits, and will provide catch up courses for students who are expected to take their end of the year exams.
The humanitarian needs in North Kivu are far greater than the resources available and humanitarian access to the province is severely hindered by violence. Nearly 1.9 million people are displaced in North Kivu, which accounts for almost one third of the 5.9 million displaced people in DRC.
UNICEF has already allocated US$ 750,000 of its own resources to meet critical needs until additional funding is secured. The UN Children’s Agency estimates that an additional US$ 1.49 million are urgently needed for its immediate response to the needs of children and their families displaced in Ruthsuru and Nyiragongo Territories in North Kivu and calls for donors to support its work through flexible and timely funding.