At least 14 children, including five girls, have died in an attack attributed to militias registered against a camp for displaced persons in Ituri province in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the fund reports for the United Nations for Children (UNICEF).
This is the most recent episode of violence in the province, killing at least 26 people in total. In addition, another 56 children, including 32 girls, were separated from their fathers, mothers or carers in the attack that occurred on Sunday night in the village of Drodro and is attributed to armed rebels.
UNICEF fears that the number of injured, abducted or separated children could continue to rise until security and access to the area are improved.
An estimated 50,000 people who have already been displaced, including 27,000 children, had to flee the camps to the city of Roe. In this context, there is growing concern about the Congolese population’s lack of access to water, food and shelter.
UNICEF, which called for the prevention and prosecution of this type of abuse, described this latest episode as “appalling” violence, which was part of a series of attacks on civilians in the region. A similar attack recently took place in the nearby Djugu region.
“The attack on Sunday was just the latest horrific incident for children and their families in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” said UNICEF representative in the country, Edouard Beigbeder.
“Our top priority is to ensure that the children affected by this terrible incident have immediate access to basic support and services. Then we have to help the communities affected by this violence in the long term, ”he added.
More than three million children have been displaced in eastern DRC, and many have been killed, injured or separated from their families amid the chaos. Attacks in the east of the country by fighters with machetes and heavy weapons have forced entire communities to flee.
According to UNICEF, despite Congolese military operations to neutralize armed groups in Ituri province, displaced persons are very unlikely to be able to return home.
UNICEF, which works to distribute vital supplies to displaced families in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is “urgently” seeking resources to help newly displaced people, most of them women and children, who have committed serious human rights abuses, including rape, and kidnapping Mutilation.
A UNICEF report released earlier this year called for an end to the conflict that caused one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, forcing 1.6 million people to leave their homes in the first six months of 2020 alone.
Along with North Kivu, South Kivu and Tanganyika, Ituri is one of the DRC provinces hardest hit by the violence. More than eight million people are acutely food insecure.
57.5 million children in West and Central Africa are currently dependent on humanitarian aid, almost twice as many as in 2020. The region includes major humanitarian crises such as Cameroon, the Central African Republic (CAR) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo but also the Central African area of the Sahel zone and the Lake Chad basin.