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UNICEF calls for an end to LRA abductions and attacks in DR Congo; extends emergency responses for separated children and internally displaced persons

KINSHASA/KAMPALA, 27 January 2009 – UNICEF today called for an immediate end to abductions, forced recruitment and extreme violence against children and women in North-Eastern DRC. 

Returning from a mission to Dungu in the Haut-Uele District, Ms. Pierrette Vu Thi, UNICEF Representative in the DRC, called on actors to do everything possible to prevent harm to children and women.  “More people have been killed over the past few weeks in Haut-Uele than over the last six months in North Kivu, said Vu Thi. The number of children abducted has reached horrible proportions”

“We urge all armed groups to immediately end deliberate attacks against civilians, the recruitment and use of children, and to release all children in their ranks”, she said.

In response to dozens of LRA attacks over the last month, UNICEF and partners are extending emergency interventions.  Around 9,000 people, mostly internally displaced persons, have received essential survival items such as cooking sets, soap, blankets, jerry cans, and plastic sheeting for emergency shelter in the last few days.  Free health care is being provided to up to 10,000 people in areas of displacement and the vast majority of 114 children who have escaped the LRA have been reunified with their families and are receiving reintegration assistance.
After a joint assessment mission by UNICEF DRC and Uganda, the International Organization for Migration, and Save the Children UK, UNICEF DRC and Uganda are coordinating with partners to further protect children separated from their families and assist them reintegrating into their communities. 

Based on experience assisting children separated from their families and communities due to LRA attacks in Uganda over the last 25 years, Mr. Keith McKenzie, UNICEF Representative in Uganda, said such returning children need community understanding, acceptance and social support.  “The protection of children is a universal imperative, and families, extended families and communities of origin have a pivotal role to play in the reintegration of all separated children”.

UNICEF and its partners in the DRC and Uganda continue to coordinate and strengthen responses to provide interim protection and reintegration assistance for returning children and displaced communities. 

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 more information, please contact:
Jaya Murthy, Communications Specialist, Goma, DR Congo, +243 81 830 5933, jmurthy@unicef.org
Chulho Hyun, Chief of Communications, Kampala, Uganda, +256 (0)772 222 347, chyun@unicef.org




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