UNICEF deplores the attack on a school and health centre in Djugu, Ituri province

20 January 2022

KINSHASA, 20 JANUARY 2022 - The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has deplored an attack on a school and a health centre in Djugu, located in Ituri province in the north-east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

UNICEF is calling on all parties to the conflict to put the best interests of the child at the centre of their concerns and to respect and protect schools and health centres.

For more than five years, Ituri has faced increased insecurity because of attacks by armed groups on civilians, resulting in enormous humanitarian needs, particularly for women and children. Since 2018, at least 109 schools and health facilities have been attacked in the province.

In 2022, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), around 2.9 million people are vulnerable in Ituri province and require continual special protection and humanitarian support.

The Ituri Provincial Population Movement Commission estimates that more than 1.2 million people are displaced and living with host community  families, with thousands displaced on multiple occasions.

The latest attack took place in Petsi, a village located about 7 kilometres west of central Bambu (about 41 km northwest of the city of Bunia) in the Bambu health zone.

UNICEF has reiterated that schools play a vital role in times of political tension and contribute towards the survival, development and protection of children.

The UN children’s agency argues they must be treated as inviolable and protected sanctuaries, where children can learn and socialise in a safe environment. School provide children with a sense of normalcy and hope for the future.

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