UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Ted Chaiban concludes visit to Eastern DR Congo, emphasizes humanitarian situation now at a tipping point, the urgent need for peace and a central role of the new Government

UNICEF official highlights the growing concerns for safeguarding children’s rights and protection of civilians amidst worsening humanitarian crisis and calls for urgent action to reinforce diplomatic and long-term solutions to eastern DR Congo

13 May 2024
Sitting down, Ted Chaiban chats with a woman carrying a child.
UNICEF/UNI572344/Jospin Benekire

GOMA, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 13 May 2024 – UNICEF Deputy Executive Director for Humanitarian Action and Supply Operations, Ted Chaiban, concluded a five-day visit to eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) where he met with authorities and witnessed firsthand the devastating impact of escalating conflict on vulnerable populations, particularly women and children.

“The scale of the conflict in the east has reached new heights, displacing millions of people and creating the worst humanitarian crisis in the country since 2003”, stated Chaiban. “Children are being killed, maimed, abducted, and recruited by armed groups with verified grave violations the highest-ever; their rights to education and a safe childhood have been shattered.”

The all-time high of 7.2 million internally displaced persons could further spiral as armed groups take control of ever more territory in eastern DRC and confrontation on Congolese soil spreads, all at the same time as the departure of MONUSCO has begun. “We are seeing growing numbers of children killed and wounded with the recent shift to the use of heavier and sophisticated arms”.

Chaiban visited the internally displaced persons sites of Bulengo and Lushagala on the outskirts of Goma, homes to over 36,500 families. “The intensification of fighting in recent months has worsened an already precarious situation for children and families in the camps”, emphasized Chaiban.

Chaiban also met with displaced families in Minova where access is increasingly constrained, where the recent influx of over 250,000 people fleeing conflicts has added immense pressure on already vulnerable host communities.

“The only way to reduce this suffering is to double down on efforts by regional actors and the international community to negotiate a political solution to the conflict, including the Luanda process, Nairobi dialogue and other diplomatic efforts”.

“The deteriorating security situation in the North and South Kivu and Ituri provinces has a significant impact on the delivery of humanitarian assistance,” stressed Chaiban.

“We strongly condemn last week's bombings on three sites for displaced persons in the Lac-vert, Lushagala, and Mugunga neighbourhoods near Goma, which resulted in the tragic loss of 35 lives and left over 20 people injured, primarily women and children.” UNICEF urges all parties to keep all military installations, arms and operations well away from civilian locations.

UNICEF reaffirms the need for centrality of protection in this crisis. “UNICEF remains committed to ensuring that every child's right to health education, and protection is upheld,” reiterated Chaiban.

With dwindling humanitarian funding, UNICEF-led humanitarian response interventions are focused on the most vulnerable.  “Responding to the full scale of the needs and bringing lasting solutions can only be achieved by government taking the primary responsibility for providing basic services in these difficult contexts, with our collective support”.

“Support to government systems for communities to be more resilient is the only way to reduce humanitarian needs”, Ted Chaiban said, underlining the importance of flexible funding as one of the key enablers. UNICEF works closely with WFP, FAO, and sister agencies to enhance resilience and social cohesion, linking humanitarian, development and peace interventions.

Chaiban visited water networks in the territory of Rutshuru, showing how lasting solutions are the way we can and should work, even in conflict zones and displaced people camps such as the extension of the Goma water network in Kanyaruchinya.

The world needs a peaceful and productive Congo, which with its tropical rainforest and green minerals, is critical to the fight against global climate change. With the international community’s support, Congo can become the Solution Country.

“DRC is too big to fail. We need peace and security for displaced people to return home, to cultivate their fields and have their children back in school”, concluded Chaiban. 

Media contacts

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

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