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KINSHASA, 12 March 2019 – UNICEF estimates that 260,000 children in the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are suffering from severe acute malnutrition and need lifesaving treatment. Thousands of children from Kasai who have fled with their families to the neighboring Provinces of Kwilu and Kwango are also suffering from malnutrition.
As a result of violence and insecurity between 2016 and 2018, Kasai faced large scale population displacements, child rights abuses and high levels of malnutrition among children. Even though pockets of insecurity remain today, thousands of families who had fled into the bush have now returned to their communities.
In the last two years, UNICEF and its partners have treated 200,000 severely malnourished children in the Kasai region. To help children return to school, UNICEF has rehabilitated 500 classrooms that had been burned down or looted during the violence and assisted more than 100,000 children with psychosocial support and education material. UNICEF has also assisted more than 5,000 unaccompanied children and children associated with militias, and supported their reintegration with their families and communities.
“We have been working tirelessly with partners and local communities in the Kasai region to support the slow recovery process following years of conflict and violence that have devastated children and families,” said Dr. Gianfranco Rotigliano, UNICEF Representative in the DRC. “However, we are concerned that recent gains for children might be lost in this fragile situation, now that we have many people returning to the region from Angola.”
The return of at least 300,000 Congolese people from Angola is incurring additional stress on health centers, schools and other basic services in Kasai. As a result, access to essential and lifesaving services is compromised for many children.
Since 2017, UNICEF and its partners in Kasai have:
- Vaccinated nearly 4 million children against measles and yellow fever;
- Organised access to basic health care for more than 163,000 people affected by conflict and epidemics;
- Provided 900,000 people with water, sanitation and hygiene kits in cholera-prone zones, and provided access to water, sanitation and hygiene services for more than 500,000 people;
- Secured safe access to community spaces to socialization, play and learning for 78,000 children;
- Provided essential household items to nearly 150,000 people;
- Reached more than 6 million people with key life-saving messages.