Bujumbura — THOUSANDS of unaccompanied children have descended on Burundi after fleeing worsening conflicts in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Unaccompanied children are by definition minors separated from both parents and other relatives.
They are the majority of the 8 000 civilians that have escaped grave human rights violations in the South Kivu and are taking refuge in south-western Burundi.
Sixty-five (65) percent of the Congolese refugees are children.
"Many of them arrived without their parents and are particularly at risk of violence or abandonment," said Patrick Kelders, Handicap International's Head of the Great Lakes projects in Africa.
"We need funding to make sure they are better protected and to supply a wider range of emergency assistance to those who need it."
Patrick said overall, needs were acute with very limited access to drinking water, food, and sanitary facilities.
The humanitarian organisation has pledged to begin distributing emergency kits to 1 000 refugees.
These kits contain mosquito nets, blankets, mattresses, soap, jerry cans and water purification tablets.
Children are bearing the brunt of multiple conflicts in the DRC.
In the Kasai region alone militia have recruited between 5 000 and 10 000 children into battle.
DRC is plagued by numerous conflicts, which have worsened since President Joseph Kabila extended his stay in power at the expiry of his mandate in 2016. More than 4 million civilians have fled their homes. - CAJ News