WESTPORT, Conn. (Nov. 4, 2008) - One week after intense fighting between the Congolese army and rebel forces uprooted some 300,000 refugees and displaced people in North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Save the Children is moving quickly to provide immediate, life-saving aid to children and their families affected by the conflict.
Following a unilateral ceasefire by rebel groups on Nov. 1, a humanitarian corridor between Goma and Kibati was opened, allowing Save the Children and other humanitarian organizations to begin reaching families fleeing the fighting with much-needed aid.
As part of its initial response, Save the Children has distributed basic household items like blankets, pots and pans and insecticide-treated bed nets to families looking after unaccompanied children in displaced persons camps in Goma and Kibati. The agency expects to expand its response in Goma, Kibati and Beni, and neighboring Uganda and Rwanda, following staff assessments of children's needs that will be completed over the next few days.
"Children are sleeping on the road with no shelter, no clean water, and with very little food. It's critical that we get life-saving supplies to these children quickly," said Ned Olney, Save the Children's Vice President for International Humanitarian Response.
Tracing and Reuniting Children Separated From Their Families
"We've seen a mass exodus of people over the past week. In this chaotic setting, children are put at great risk of being separated from their families, or worse, of sexual exploitation, violence and abduction by armed groups. Save the Children is taking immediate steps to ensure the safety and protection of children," added Olney.
Save the Children has decades of experience in child tracing and reuniting separated children with families in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The organization has launched child tracing efforts in two displaced persons camps in Goma. Eighty-two unaccompanied children have already been identified through the program, according to Save the Children staff.
Save the Children has issued an urgent global appeal for $8 million to meet the critical needs of an estimated 50,000 displaced children and adults in the Democratic Republic of Congo conflict.
For nearly 15 years, Save the Children has been working in North Kivu of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, reuniting children with their families, demobilizing child soldiers, helping children return to school and providing health care.
Save the Children works in more than 50 countries, including the United States, and serves more than 41 million children and 25 million adults, providing health, education and development programs that help children to survive and thrive, and mobilizing lifesaving assistance to help children recover from the effects of disasters around the world.
How You Can Help
You can help make a difference in the lives of children affected by disasters around the world by contributing to our Children's Emergency Fund. Your contribution will help us prepare for and respond immediately to children and families who urgently need our help when disasters strike.