UNICEF condemns attack on camp for displaced people in eastern DRC that kills 23 children

12 June 2023

KINSHASA, 12 JUNE 2023 - UNICEF is horrified by an attack on a camp for displaced people in the early hours of 12 June 2023 in Ituri Province in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The brutal attack on the Lala displacement camp left more than 45 people dead including 23 children, according to initial reports. At least seven people were injured, including three children.

“The targeting of these already vulnerable civilians is beyond contemptible,” said UNICEF DRC Representative Grant Leaity. “The trauma that these children are living through is unimaginable. It is unacceptable that these families – who have already fled their homes  – are once again the direct target of violence.”

In addition to causing deaths and injury, the militants set fire to more than 800 shelters and stole livestock. UNICEF and its partners in Ituri estimate that 5,000 children are affected by the attack, having lost parents, siblings, their homes and possessions, their toys and school supplies.  

The conflict in Ituri has persisted since 2017 but the situation has deteriorated considerably since the start of 2023 with armed groups targeting civilians, schools and hospitals. In the past six months, militants have killed around 600 civilians and injured over 200. The lack of safety and protection of children is becoming an increasingly pressing concern and Ituri now ranks second out of DRC’s 26 provinces for the highest number of UN-verified grave violations against children.

UNICEF is responding to the humanitarian needs of displaced people and host communities in eastern DRC. In the aftermath of this attack, UNICEF and partners are identifying and caring for children who have lost their parents and families, providing psychological support to injured children and their parents and care to injured children who have not been hospitalized. Through the UNICEF Rapid Response mechanism, 800 shelters will be provided to affected families within 72 hours.

“We urge the government to bring the assailants to account and to step up the protection of children and their families,” said Leaity.  

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Lianne Gutcher
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Sylvie Sona
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