850,000 children displaced by violence in Democratic Republic of the Congo’s volatile Kasai region
KINSHASA/DAKAR/GENEVA/NEW YORK, 28 July 2017 – More than one million people have been forced from their homes by waves of violent conflict in the Greater Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – making the region one of the largest displacement crises in the world for children, UNICEF said today.
“The lives of hundreds of thousands of children and their families in Greater Kasai have been turned upside down by this brutal violence,” said Tajudeen Oyewale, UNICEF Acting Representative in the DRC. “A total of 1.4 million people, including 850,000 children, have been displaced, with at least 60,000 uprooted in the month of June alone.”
Most of the people who have been displaced in the region are now living with foster families and relatives in communities that are already among the poorest in the country and whose situation has become even more critical with the worsening economic situation in the DRC. In many cases, the displaced people have lost or left behind all their essential goods and personal belongings.
A smaller number of displaced families have fled into the bush in the vicinity of their villages, surviving in improvised huts. These families are the most vulnerable and the least accessible to humanitarian workers. They suffer from lack of adequate food, shelter, healthcare, water and sanitation.
“This is a rapidly growing humanitarian crisis, and with our partners, we are working amid great insecurity to try to help these highly vulnerable families,” said Oyewale.
UNICEF and its partners have implemented a cash assistance program for displaced people that provides households with a cash support that can be used for basic necessities. To date, UNICEF has supported 11,225 households through this program.
In addition to the cash program, a flexible multi-sectoral program called Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) - to be launched in the coming weeks – will pre-position materials and aid partners to rapidly respond to the needs of displaced populations. The assistance includes healthcare, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene, and essential non-food items (shelter materials, kitchen utensils, buckets of water, blankets, etc.). Some 50,000 households are expected to benefit from this program over the coming months.
So far this year, UNICEF and its partners have assisted 157,490 people in urgent humanitarian need thanks to the support of donors.