UNICEF and WFP demand action to protect children and unfettered humanitarian access in eastern DRC

22 February 2024
A girl smiles

KINSHASA,  23 February 2024 – The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) are calling for immediate action to protect children and families caught in the escalating violence in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where an increasing number of people, including children, have been wounded or killed near makeshift camps. Both agencies call on all parties to the conflict to prioritize the protection of civilians and allow humanitarian agencies to do their work.

The latest conflict in the Eastern DRC has resulted in catastrophic conditions for the local population. Fierce fighting has, over the past two weeks, moved 25 kilometres west of Goma towards the town of Sake, where children and their families are caught in a deadly crossfire.

“Children in DRC need peace now,” said Grant Leaity, UNICEF Representative in the DRC. “We are calling for children to be protected in this war and for an end to this violence through renewed efforts to find a diplomatic solution. We are extremely concerned about the safety of children and their families in and around camps in Goma.”

This has triggered a huge movement of people to already overcrowded displacement camps. An additional 214,950 people have joined the 500,000 people already displaced to areas around Goma. Separately, tens of thousands of others moved towards Minova in South Kivu.

Crucial land routes to facilitate food delivery and other supplies have been cut off, causing shortages and price spikes in Goma’s local markets. The situation further strains families struggling to put food on their tables.

“We are facing a humanitarian catastrophe of massive proportions,” said Peter Musoko, Country Director and Representative for WFP in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). “Make no mistake: If we do not act now, lives will be lost.”

The increase in violence and displacement is straining resources for both agencies to mount a comprehensive response that includes food, clean water, good sanitation, safe shelter, basic health care, and protective services for women and children.

WFP is appealing for $300 million for the next 6 months. With an urgent resource break starting in March, the agency needs $78 million immediately to plug this gap and continue its operations.

For the next 6 months, UNICEF seeks $400 million for its emergency response in eastern DRC, with an immediate need of $96 million. Urgent priorities following this recent influx of people include deploying mobile clinics to provide emergency medical care and nutrition services in and around camps, reinforcing cholera containment and prevention, distributing non-food items, increasing water trucking, caring for unaccompanied children and reuniting them with their families, and providing services to prevent and respond to cases of gender-based violence.

DRC has become one of the continent’s most significant internal displacement crises, with 6.9 million people displaced, primarily due to conflict in the east. In the last year alone, IOM estimates that 1.6 million people have been displaced.

Media contacts

Lianne Gutcher
Tel: +243 820 996 405
Manuel Moreno Gonzalez
Media Specialist
Tel: +34 686 38 34 32


UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

Follow UNICEF on TwitterFacebook, Instagram and YouTube