Kinshasa — AN estimated 260 000 children in the western Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are suffering from severe malnutrition and need lifesaving treatment. They are in the region of Kasai, which has been beset by violence and insecurity between 2016 and 2018.
Thousands of children who have fled with their families to the neighboring provinces of Kwilu and Kwango are also suffering from malnutrition. The return of at least 300 000 Congolese people from Angola is incurring additional stress on health centres, schools and other basic services in Kasai.
As a result, access to essential and lifesaving services is compromised for many children. Dr Gianfranco Rotigliano, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) representative in the DRC, said they had been working tirelessly with partners and local communities in Kasai to support the slow recovery process following years of conflict and violence that devastated children and families.
"However, we are concerned that recent gains for children might be lost in this fragile situation, now that we have many people returning to the region from Angola." UNICEF and its partners have treated 200 000 severely malnourished children in the Kasai region in the last two years.
The organisations have assisted more than 100 000 children with psychosocial support and education material. UNICEF has also assisted more than 5 000 unaccompanied children and children associated with militias, and supported their reintegration with their families and communities.