from JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
KINSHASA, (CAJ News) – MORE than 90 000 children have been forced to flee their homes as the inter-communal violence rages in the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
As a result of the violence in the Ituri Province, children’s rights groups said 66 000 refugee children no longer have access to health and education services.
About 25 000 of these children have fled to the neighbouring Uganda.
During the violence, which started in December and intensified in February 2018, more than 70 villages were burned. More than 76 stabbings have been documented, among them a majority of women and children, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
At least three health centers and seven schools have been looted or razedm to the ground, depriving children of health care and education.
UNICEF also estimates that more than 100 schools have interrupted classes, depriving 30 000 children of their schooling.
Most of the refugees have moved to schools, churches and hospitals to Bunia, the capital of the volatile Ituri Province.
“They are exposed to the weather and have limited access to food and clean water, with a real risk of developing diarrheal diseases, including cholera,” said a UNICEF official.
UNICEF called on all parties to protect children from violence and to seek peaceful resolution of their differences.
DRC is experiencing a myriad of conflicts, which has coincided with President Joseph Kabila staying in power despite the lapse of his term in 2016.
– CAJ News