A new wave of violence in Ituri province in eastern DR Congo has forced aid organisations to reduce or suspend their activities, leaving thousands of families without life-saving humanitarian support, including food assistance, education and health services.
Save the Children, the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) are among the organisations that have had to temporarily reduce or suspend activities since fighting escalated at the weekend. More than 320,000 people in Djugu territory are now at risk of being cut off from humanitarian assistance, warn the three organisations.
The reduction and suspension of activities come at a time when the country is facing the world's largest hunger crisis this century. In Ituri province alone, over half of the population -- nearly 3 million people -- are facing extreme levels of hunger. Of all the provinces in DRC, Ituri has the largest number of people facing extreme hunger, and nutrition and health actors like Save the Children have now lost access.
"Already 1.5 million people are already displaced in Ituri, half of them children. They are relying on humanitarian assistance to survive. The disruption of access to food, water, shelter, healthcare and protection services will only push these extremely vulnerable populations further towards the abyss," said Caitlin Brady, NRC's Country Director.
Many armed actors in DRC have been accused of grave violations of child rights in conflict.
"Children and women are paying the highest price in conflicts. Hospitals have been attacked, denying pregnant women and hungry children access to health care; schools have been attacked, denying children the right to education; children are likely to be more and more recruited to armed groups and even killed in the violence. In our ongoing programmes in the area, for weeks now, more than 85,000 children have been left behind due to lack of access in their communities or health centres that used to care for them," said Save the Children's Country Director Amavi Akpamagbo.
"Women and children face extreme levels of physical and sexual violence at the hands of armed actors. We have programming to protect these groups but it's increasingly hard to safely access them. We must see an end to abuses and impunity," said Martine Villeneuve, Country Director for Danish Refugee Council.
The three organisations call on all parties to the conflict to safeguard civilians' lives and dignity and allow safe, principled humanitarian access to all affected populations.
Note to Editors
NRC in DRC supports communities affected by displacement in Kasai Central, Tanganyika, South Kivu, North Kivu and Ituri, by providing rapid multi-purpose assistance following displacement; shelter, water and sanitation support; education; information, counselling and legal assistance; and food security and livelihoods support, in order to promote self-reliance and durable solutions for all communities affected by displacement.
Danish Refugee Council in DRC is present in the Haut Uélé, Ituri and North Kivu provinces of DR Congo, where it responds to emergencies and seeks to enhance the protective environment around populations affected by displacement. DRC's programmes include protection, child protection, education, provision of shelter, and peacebuilding initiatives. DRC implements a multisectoral approach to meet the needs of children, combining child protection and education.
Save the Children in DRC operates in South Kivu, North Kivu, Ituri, Kasai Oriental, Lomami and Kinshasa. In addition to its development programmes, the organisation responds to emergencies. Up to August 2021, 3,375,868 people in need, including 1,212,120 (36%) girls, 1,054,771 (31%) boys, 649,553.00 (19%) women and 459,424 (14%) men have benefited from various humanitarian and development services in the areas of health, nutrition, protection, sexual and gender-based violence, education, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) at the national level.
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