KINSHASA, 11 August 2020 – UNICEF is providing vital assistance to 40,000 displaced people who have fled violence in the South Kivu highlands, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
More than 40,000 people – including 7,500 children under 5 and more than 1,500 pregnant women – have fled villages in the territories of Uvira, Fizi and Mwenga since May due to intensifying inter-ethnic conflicts that have wiped away the livelihoods of thousands of people. UNICEF estimates that 10 health centres were looted and rendered unusable, while another 18 were abandoned by medical staff fleeing violence. At least 28 schools were looted or damaged in December 2019 and have not been rebuilt since, leaving thousands of children without a place to study.
UNICEF and its partners are currently focusing their activities in the area of Mikenge, where 40,000 people have taken shelter in the forest areas, not far from their places of origin. UNICEF played a key role in re-opening the Mikenge hospital, which had been deserted by medical staff. It has supplied the health facility with 4 tons of emergency medical kits comprising of medicines, medical supplies and basic medical and sterilization equipment for the care and treatment of 20,000 people over three months. UNICEF is also providing basic medical and vaccination services through mobile clinics to around 23,000 displaced people who have been sought shelter in Mount Mitumba.
UNICEF is also working to reunite or place in host families 17 children who had been separated from their parents, and it has distributed two recreational kits for team activities for up to 300 children in Mikenge and Bijombo.
In the next few days, UNICEF and its partners will distribute 4 tons of emergency food rations to 4,000 vulnerable people (pregnant and breastfeeding women, and the elderly), as well as 200 workbooks to out-of-school children in Mikenge and Bijombo.
UNICEF warns that thousands of displaced people in South Kivu’s highlands are in dire need of food, shelter, health and education assistance and calls on humanitarian partners to step up their response in the area.
The crisis in South Kivu has flown under the radar as DRC grapples with the Ebola crisis until recently and multiple crises in the eastern part of the country.
UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children appeal for the DRC is US$ 301 million. As of 15 July 2020, only US$ 27 had been received and US$ 40 million were carried forward from the previous year, leaving a funding gap of US$ 219 million (73 per cent).
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Jean Jacques Simon
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UNICEF New York
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