UNICEF calls for the protection of children in Eastern DR Congo
KINSHASA/GOMA, 19 November 2012 – Since Thursday, heavy clashes around Goma, North Kivu Province’s capital city, between M23 rebel fighters and the Congolese army forced thousands of displaced men, women and children to flee again. UNICEF is deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo and its impact on children.
According to a UNICEF rapid assessment conducted this morning, the Kanyaruchinya IDP site, which had hosted at least 30,000 internally displaced persons since July is empty as its inhabitant fled towards Goma. To ensure an efficient and adequate response to nutritional, educational, water, health and household item needs, an interagency evaluation is underway to assess the situation of IDPs in Mugunga I and III, Lac Vert and Goma.
The renewed conflict is putting children and their families at risk, leaving them exposed to physical harm and mental distress. UNICEF is particularly concerned about the psychological trauma faced by children, in addition to the risk of cholera outbreaks following a recent upsurge of the disease among IDPs in Kanyaruchinya.
On Sunday, while fighting was still ongoing, and on Monday, UNICEF provided one ton of high-energy biscuits and medicine for 500 unaccompanied children in Goma’s Don Bosco Centre. UNICEF partner PAMI is currently organizing listening points to register and reunify unaccompanied minors.
Schools in the conflict-affected area along the axis of Goma-Rugari are closed within 30 kilometers of Goma. Government officials asked parents not to send their children to school until the situation has calmed down.
According to a UN report released last week, at least 264 civilians, including 83 children, were arbitrarily executed by armed groups in more than 75 attacks on villages in Eastern DRC between April and September of this year.
UNICEF calls on all parties to do their utmost to protect the rights and well-being of all children.