A new contribution to help UNICEF reach families affected by displacement in Eastern DR Congo brings the total allocation by ECHO to €10.7 million (US$14 million)

Kinshasa/Brussels, 20 March 2013: The European Commission’s Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) is increasing its funding to UNICEF to ensure assistance to children and their families who are affected by displacement in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). UNICEF announced last week that ECHO has donated a further 5.2 million euros (6.8 million dollars) for the Rapid Response Mechanism for Population Movements (RRMP), bringing the total ECHO contribution to 10.7 million euros (14 million dollars) for 2012-2013.

Thanks to ECHO's support, UNICEF will be able to reach over 1,000,000 people affected by displacement in Eastern DRC with multi-sectorial assessments and emergency support in health, essential household items, emergency water and sanitation, and emergency education. Actions will target children and their families in North Kivu, South Kivu, Province Orientale and Katanga that have been suffering from conflict in their home villages.

In 2012, ECHO was the single largest bilateral donor to RRMP with a total contribution of 5.5 million euros (7.2 million dollars). Through the RRMP program, 713,720 people were assisted with essential household items, 422,663 people were provided with drinking water, hygiene and sanitation and 57,021 students and teachers were granted access to education in emergencies.

The humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo continues to deteriorate. In the eastern part of the country, up to 2.4 million people, over half of them children, are displaced by armed conflict. North Kivu province is home to some 914,000 IDPs, the largest accumulation in the country.

In South Kivu some 878,000 people were displaced by the end of October 2012. The overwhelming majority of them (more than 96 per cent) are living in host communities. A massive increase in IDPs has also been noted in Katanga province where over 313,000 people had been displaced at the end of December 2012 [IDP-figures/Source OCHA]. The conflict is characterized by grave human rights violations: including burning and looting of homes and schools, mass sexual violence, family separation, and forced recruitment of children into armed groups. As of November 2012, 540 schools had been affected by armed conflict in North Kivu alone, jeopardizing learning opportunities for over 180,000 children.

"Violence and displacement can mark children for life, taking them the future they deserve", says UNICEF's Representative in the DRC, Barbara Bentein. "To assist families who lost their homes, we need a concerted response that puts the foundation for a peaceful future. Health care and prevention action, safe water and hygiene, emergency education and essential household items help families to rebuild their lives. ECHO is helping us to achieve this."

"The EU has for many years been attentive to the dire situation of people in the Democratic Republic of Congo", said Jean-Louis de Brouwer, ECHO’s director for Humanitarian and Civil Protection Operations. "Our new funding, channeled through UNICEF, will provide vital assistance to the most vulnerable people of this country who still continue to suffer despite huge opportunities for the country to move forward".

With a total contribution of 10.7 million euros (14 million dollars) for 2012-2013, ECHO is now the largest donor to the RRMP programme. Other contributors include the DRC Pooled Fund, the United States Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, and the governments of Sweden, Canada, Japan, Switzerland and Korea.

About UNICEF
UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: http://www.unicef.org

For further information, please contact:
Cornelia Walther, UNICEF Kinshasa, Mobile +243 991 00 63 07,
Email: cwalther@unicef.org
Cyprien Banyanga, ECHO Kinshasa, Mobile +243 81 89 466 95
Email: cyprien.banyanga-byamungu@eeas.europa.eu
For further information, please visit us: UNICEF-EU web portal: http://www.unicef.org/eu/

For more information on ECHO: ECHO website: http://ec.europa.eu/echo/index_en.htm
For more information on UNICEF: www.unicef.org or follow us on https://twitter.com/UNICEFDRC, www.facebook.com/pages/UNICEF-DRC