Spike in violence worsening plight of children in DRC’s Ituri province
Cape Town - A spike in inter-community violence in the eastern province of Ituri in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is worsening the plight of children there, the UN Children’s Fund (Unicef) says, urging greater international support.
The agency, along with its humanitarian organisations, has repeatedly warned about the violence, which includes machete attacks and sexual assaults.
The agency will continue to raise the alarm to prevent the world from becoming numb to what Unicef’s senior co-ordinator for Eastern DRC Jean Metenier described as a desperate humanitarian crisis this week.
“Every day, children and their rights are undermined through relentless violence and grave rights violations, displacement, rising food insecurity and lack of access to pretty much every basic service, including schooling,” he said.
“We say it over and again: we need the international community to step up, as our work is barely scratching the surface of needs.”
Unicef said nearly 175 grave violations have occurred across Ituri since January, such as recruitment of children into armed groups, killing and maiming of children, sexual violence and attacks on schools and hospitals.
In most cases, humanitarians were denied full access to the areas most affected by violence in Djugu and Irumu territories.
The attacks have displaced a large number of people, Unicef said, and more than 275 children, including 118 girls, have been separated from their parents.
Ituri has a total population of 5.7 million people. It is estimated that more than 1.6 million people across the province are displaced, and 2.8 million are in need of some form of emergency assistance, the UN agency stated.
It said more than 100,000 children under five suffer severe acute malnutrition, a direct consequence of food insecurity that is affecting nearly 800,000 people, while attacks on schools have affected around 400,000 children aged six to 11.
“Although the UN agency has provided non-food and hygiene items to more than 8,000 people in South Irumu territory and is mobilising partners in areas such as child protection, water, sanitation and health, these efforts will not be enough to meet the immense needs,” Metenier said.
Unicef is calling for aid agencies and donors to continue supporting its response in the DRC.
African News Agency (ANA)