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Continued support needed to cover humanitarian needs in DR Congo, UNICEF, UNHCR and WFP warn

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, 24 January 2014 – UNHCR Assistant High Commis-sioner for Operations Janet Lim, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, Yoka Brandt, and WFP Assistant Executive Director, Ramiro Lopes da Silva, during a visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from 21-25 January, called on the international community to continue their support for the country’s large-scale humanitarian crisis.

“Children are the first to suffer because they are the most vulnerable and they always bear the brunt of a conflict,” declared UNICEF Deputy Executive Director. “Today more than 1.5 million children are affected by displacement – they have been traumatized by the violence they have seen, their educa-tion has been disrupted and many have been enrolled in armed groups. We must not forget that each of them has the right to go to school and to be protected from harm.”

According to OCHA, 2.9 million people are currently displaced by conflict within DRC, more than 60% are in North and South Kivu. Important steps towards peace have been made, but armed groups have beset eastern DRC for many years. The ongoing conflict in the East of the country comes in addition to the already dire situation that people face all over the country. 6.7 million people are food insecure and 2 million children are affected by malnutrition, and epidemics such as cholera and measles persist. The complexity of the situation requires continued attention and support from the international community – this was the key message at the heart of the Joint High-Level Visit to the country. 

Together, UNCHR, WFP and UNICEF senior officials visited South Irumu in Province Orientale, where fighting between the Congolese army and militia groups has displaced an estimated 120,000 people since August 2013. After meeting displaced people and host communities in a spontaneous site near Lagabo, Ituri district, Mr. Lopes da Silva declared “Insecurity has disrupted the livelihoods of these population, and we are committed to continue supporting them, both in the areas of displacement as well as well as in their communities once they feel that condition are in place for them to return. In the meantime we shall continue advocate on their behalf to donor governments for adequate resource to be made available”. In Goma, the three senior UN officials visited programs in the Mungunga III dis-placement camp where they met conflict-affected populations. United by the objective to understand challenges and explore solutions, they discussed with national authorities and humanitarian partners in the East and in Kinshasa to identify opportunities for enhanced efficiency. 

“People in some parts of the country continue to suffer and are being displaced because of violence. We need the support of the Congolese authorities, civil society, humanitarian organizations, the devel-opment sector and donor countries to consolidate the recent progress towards peace and stability throughout the country and to put an end to conflict and displacement”, said Mrs. Lim. Insecurity in the east of the country, including Katanga, causes repeated population displacements. It is estimated that about half of IDPs are children. The province of Equateur, where peace is being restored after in-ter-ethnic clashes in late 2009 and early 2010 forced 200,000 people to flee their homes, now hosts more than 50,000 refugees from war-torn Central African Republic.
During their visit, the three agencies’ senior representatives stressed their commitment to identify and strengthen synergies in contexts where all three agencies are operational. As part of this initiative, senior officials from the three agencies also led joint visits in Mauritania in November 2012 and Jor-dan/Lebanon in July 2013.

For more information, please contact:
Cornelia Walther,
Cell: + 243 99 100 63 07

Céline Schmitt,
Cell: +243 81 700 94 84

Claude Kalinga,
Cell: +243 81 700 67 14
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