Luanda, Ango — More than 9,000 children who have arrived at two temporary reception centres in Dundo, northern Angola, from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) need urgent support, UNICEF said today. To date, more than 25,000 people have arrived in Angola, having fled violence in the Kasai province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
UNICEF, together with provincial authorities and other partners, is providing assistance to children and their families who arrive at the camps after days, often weeks of travelling on foot. Many children have witnessed violent attacks, others have sustained severe wounds caused by bullets or crude weapons.
"The protection of children, nutrition, access to safe drinking water and sanitation, as well as prevention of disease, have been UNICEF's immediate concerns - and actions - since the arrival of refugees in Lunda Norte," says UNICEF's Representative in Angola, Abubacar Sultan.
UNICEF and partners are working around the clock to provide affected children with life-saving interventions in health, water and adequate sanitation services. Reaching children with immunisation against viruses such as measles is vital to reduce the risk of outbreaks.
In addition to the immediate life-saving interventions, UNICEF is taking action to protect 200 children who have arrived at the camps in Angola without their families. UNICEF has trained social welfare workers to register children who arrive in the camps unaccompanied or separated from their families. Registration is critical to ensure the safety of children and protect them from trafficking, abuse and exploitation. By registering children, there is also a greater chance that they can be reunited with their families.
"Reuniting these children with their families is a priority", says UNICEF's Abubacar Sultan. "UNICEF and partners have identified temporary placement of the unaccompanied children in a friendly and protective environment while efforts are made to trace their biological families. UNICEF remains committed to ensuring that the rights of children are realized and protected under all circumstances."
Additional UNICEF support in the field:
In response to the appeal of the Government of Angola, UNICEF has also provided the provincial authorities of Luanda Norte with supplies to support families accommodated in both camps. Materials include water treatment and purification supplies, family reintegration kits, educational and child recreation kits, essential medicine against malaria and diarrheal diseases, tents, blankets, as well as posters and leaflets on disease prevention.
To meet people's needs in water and sanitation, UNICEF has supported a daily supply of potable water to the camps, installed water tanks and monitored water quality to prevent water-borne diseases. UNICEF has trained volunteers to construct 50 gender-segregated latrines, not only to protect the dignity and ensure the safety of refugees - particularly girls and women - but also to prevent open defecation that can cause outbreaks such as cholera and other epidemic diseases.
Health is a key challenge for children whose bodies and immune systems have been weakened by walking long distances, combined with lack of regular food and water intake. UNICEF has trained health professionals to assess acute and chronic malnutrition in children under five and to support vaccination campaigns. Dozens of volunteers have been trained by UNICEF in environmental sanitation, safe defecation, health promotion and disease prevention; and awareness-raising campaigns are reaching several hundreds of families every day.
Photos and b-roll from refugees reception centres available here: http://uni.cf/2qswpoV