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60,000 displaced people in Eastern DRC receive UNICEF assistance

KINSHASA, 11 September 2007 - Fighting in North Kivu is threatening the lives of children in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Tens of thousands of children have been displaced in the last weeks; many of them separated from their parents in the confusion following the fighting. Thousands of children are unable to start the school year, which began last week.

“The main victims of the deteriorating security situation in North Kivu are children,” says Anthony Bloomberg, UNICEF Representative in DRC. Measles and cholera are growing dangers in the crowded makeshift camps around Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.
UNICEF DRC is providing various forms of assistance to about 60,000 people in the Muganga and Minova localities, in North Kivu province.

UNICEF assistance to displaced families includes clean water distribution, latrines, temporary shelter materials, bedding and cooking ultensils. Vaccination against measles and neo natal tetanus is on-going for all children under the age of 14 as well as for pregnant women. 2,000 children have been screened for malnutrition; 277 are receiving  supplementary feeding, and 35 acutely malnourished children have been referred to therapeutic feeding centres. UNICEF is expanding existing school facilities to accommodate displaced children in and around Goma, the North Kivu capital.

Since the start of fighting last November in Sake, near Goma, UNICEF has assisted 350,000 displaced persons. UNICEF’s actions are part of a coordinated response with other UN organizations including the Office Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs, United Nations High Commission for Refugees, World Food Programme, World Health Organisation and The Mission of the United Nations in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

However, the majority of displaced persons still remain without assistance due to the fighting. “We should reach many more children, and do so quickly to save lives, but access and insecurity are hampering efforts,” affirms UNICEF Representative in DRC, Anthony Bloomberg. “UNICEF is calling upon all parties in the conflict to protect the rights of children, put an end to the recruitment of children and ensure humanitarian access to all displaced persons.” 

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact:
Anthony Bloomberg or Joyce Brandful : (++243) 81 884 6746, Email: Kinshasa@unicef.org
Patrick McCormick, UNICEF New York, 212 326 7426, pmccormick@unicef.org




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