19 November 2012

Congo-Kinshasa: Unicef Calls for the Protection of Children in Eastern DR Congo

Photo: Melanie Gouby/RNW
Displaced (file photo): Humanitarian agencies have been overwhelmed following a massive displacement triggered by the fighting.

Kinshasa/Goma — Heavy clashes around Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo between M23 rebel fighters and the Congolese army have forced thousands of displaced men, women and children to flee again. UNICEF is deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation and its impact on children.

According to a UNICEF rapid assessment on Monday, Kanyaruchinya displaced site, which had hosted at least 30,000 people since July, is empty as former residents have fled towards Goma.

An inter-agency evaluation is currently underway to assess the situation of displaced people in Mugunga I and III, Lac Vert and Goma and to ensure an efficient and adequate response to nutritional, educational, water, health and household item needs.

The renewed conflict is putting children and their families at risk, leaving them exposed to physical harm and mental distress. UNICEF is particularly concerned about the psychological trauma faced by children, in addition to the risk of cholera outbreaks following a recent upsurge of the disease among IDPs in Kanyaruchinya.

On Sunday, while fighting was ongoing, and on Monday, UNICEF provided one ton of high-energy biscuits and medicine for 500 unaccompanied children in Goma's Don Bosco Centre.

UNICEF partner PAMI is organizing points to register and reunify unaccompanied minors with their parents.

Schools in the conflict-affected area along the axis of Goma-Rugari are closed within 30 kilometres of Goma. Government officials asked parents not to send their children to school until the situation has calmed down.

According to a UN report last week, at least 264 civilians, including 83 children, were arbitrarily executed by armed groups in more than 75 attacks on villages in eastern DRC between April and September of this year.

UNICEF calls on all parties to do their utmost to protect the rights and well-being of all children.

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