Children's lives and wellbeing at risk in Rutshuru and Nyiragongo, DRC

30 July 2022
Une mère entourée de ses trois enfants assis dans un tente
UNICEF DRC Bashizi

GOMA, 30 JULY 2022 – Thousands of displaced children in Rutshuru territory in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) remain at risk with little chance of returning to their homes after they were forced to move earlier this year.

It is estimated that more than 190,000 people, half of them children, have been made to flee since March to the territories of Rutshuru and Nyiragongo. 

UNICEF DRC Representative Grant Leaity recently visited Rutshuru and Kalengera to meet displaced people. Their presence in the area has in places more than doubled the population, with displaced people and host community families urgently requiring food, household items, health equipment and water and sanitation assistance.

"Thousands of children are at risk,” he said. “They have very limited access to the basic social services they need to survive in this crisis, which is likely to continue as families are unable to return to their villages.

"UNICEF has stepped up its activities to strengthen its response to displaced families, host populations and people living next to the conflict zone.

“However, the magnitude of this crisis means that in general humanitarian assistance is slow to arrive while needs continue to grow alarmingly.

“In the absence of assistance, some displaced people are forced to return to their villages of origin located in the highly volatile areas between the positions of the belligerents.”

Mr Leaity said it was “imperative to react now” if a significant increase in the number of children suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition was to be prevented.

UNICEF and its partners in Rutshuru and Kalengera are providing assistance in the areas of child protection, nutrition, immunization, water, hygiene and sanitation, cholera response, essential household items (EHI) and education.

Over the past three months, they have:

  • Installed 272 latrines and 132 emergency showers were in reception areas for displaced families, while ensuring that more than 40,000 people are made aware of hygiene issues;
  • Organized rapid interventions against cholera by distributing prevention kits to 3,500 families;
  • Distributed emergency items to nearly 4,720 displaced families through the Rapid Response Programme (UniRR) while providing health kits and nutritional inputs to four health facilities;
  • Arranged for the care of 654 children suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition and raised awareness of good nutritional practices among 1,500 people;
  • Assisted 648 children who were separated from their families, 482 of whom were reunited with their guardians and 165 of whom were placed with foster families;
  • Provided psychosocial support to over 2,000 children through Child Friendly Spaces;
  • Assisted 350 displaced students in Uganda to sit their State Examination in Rutshuru;
  • Provided recreational kits to 900 students and improved learning conditions in nine schools;
  • Sensitised more than 3,000 people on the prevention of gender-based violence.

Insecurity and access to displaced people remain a major challenge for humanitarian actors in North Kivu province, along with insufficient resources available to scale up the response.

UNICEF is calling on its international and domestic all partners to support humanitarian assistance programmes in Rutshuru, so that affected populations can regain access to basic but essential services.

The childrens’ agency has also called on all parties to the conflict to protect children at all times and to facilitate access to the services necessary for their survival and well-being.

Media contacts

Sylvie Sona
UNICEF DRC
Tel: +243 81 70 96 215

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