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Press release

1.5 million children affected by violence in Kasaï region of Democratic Republic of Congo

KINSHASA/GENEVA/NEW YORK, 21 April 2017– The crisis in the Greater Kasaï region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is having a devastating impact on children, UNICEF warned today. More than 1.5 million children, including 600,000 who have already been displaced from their homes, are at risk due to the extreme violence.

“Children in Kasai are being forced to endure horrific ordeals,” said Dr Tajudeen Oyewale, UNICEF Representative a.i. in DRC, following a field visit to the affected region. “Hundreds of children have been injured in the violence, with reports of children detained, raped, and even executed. This horrific abuse of children cannot be allowed to continue, and perpetrators must be held to account.”

Violence and instability in the Kasai provinces, among the poorest regions of the country, began in August 2016 after a traditional leader was killed in fighting with security forces, and deteriorated further during the first three months of 2017.

According to UNICEF estimates:

• 2,000 children are being used by the militias in the affected region.
• At least 300 children have been seriously injured in the violence.
• More than 4,000 children have been separated from their families.

The violence has also had a devastating impact on education and health systems in the region. More than 350 schools have been destroyed. In the Province of Kasaï Central 1 in 3 health centers are no longer functional, putting children at an increased risk of disease.

“These children should be safe in their homes, schools and playgrounds, not forced to fight on the battlefield or wounded or killed in the violence,” said Dr. Oyewale.

Unless the situation improves rapidly, UNICEF has warned that the six million children – the entire child population of the three Kasai provinces - are at risk.

UNICEF has secured the release of 384 children detained or held in the Kasaï region, previously enrolled in the militias.

UNICEF has also scaled up its emergency response in the region, including projects targeting 173,000 people with health, nutrition, protection, education, WASH and Non-food-items (NFI.)

UNICEF renews its call on all parties to the conflict to ensure the rights of children are upheld.

UNICEF is also appealing for funding. To date, the organization has only received US$3.5 million of the US$20.6 million needed to respond to the crisis in Greater Kasai.


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org

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For more information :

Yves Willemot, UNICEF DRC, +243 81 88 46 746, ywillemot@unicef.org

Sylvie Sona, UNICEF DRC, +243 81 70 96 215, nssona@unicef.org

Joe English, UNICEF New York, + 1 917-893-0692, jenglish@unicef.org

Christophe Boulierac, UNICEF Geneva, +41 22 909 5716, +41 799639244, cboulierac@unicef.org

Patrick Rose, UNICEF Dakar, +221 78 63 80 250, prose@unicef.org




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