Lives of 3 million children in Congo at risk: UNICEF

New York [US], February 19 (ANI/Sputnik): Militia violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) threatens the future of some 3 million internally displaced children in the east of the country, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in a new report on Friday.

“By November 2020, official figures showed there were around 5,2 million internally displaced people (IDPs) in DRC, mostly in the four eastern provinces of North and South Kivu, Ituri and Tanganyika. Just over 3 million of the IDPs are children, including nearly half-a-million under the age of 5,” the report said.

A succession of brutal attacks by fighters armed with machetes and heavy weaponry in the DRC’s eastern region over the past three years has forced entire communities to abandon their villages with the barest of possessions, the report said.

The uptick in violence is caused by a combination of factors, including land disputes, ethnic animosities, availability of arms and weak governance. The perpetrators kill entire families, destroy schools and hospitals and burn down villages.

Families displaced by the violence live in crowded settlements, while others are absorbed into already impoverished local communities, where children lack basic items, including water, food and sanitation.

UNICEF Representative for the DRC Edouard Beigbeder said the displaced children know nothing but fear, poverty and violence.

“Generation after generation can think only of survival. We must do more to encourage these children’s hopes of a better future,” Beigbeder said.

While delivering aid to displaced populations is often hampered by insecurity and weak transport infrastructure, the international community must maintain and step up assistance to the DRC, the report also said.

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UNICEF’s 2021 humanitarian appeal for the DRC for USD 384.4 million being funded only at 11 percent fund seems the international community “is looking the other way,” the report added.

All parties to the conflict must end the brutal assaults and provide humanitarian access to the displaced populations, according to the report. (ANI/Sputnik)

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