PRESS RELEASE – During her visit to the DRC, the Regional Director of UNICEF has called on all partners to support the humanitarian response in Kasai. UNICEF devotes particular attention to this crisis and has made the humanitarian response in this region a global priority for the organization.
The wave of violence that has affected the Kasai region for more than a year now has left 1.2 million children in need of humanitarian assistance, said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa, who is on a visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) this week.
During her visit from 24 to 29 September 2017, Marie-Pierre Poirier travelled to Kananga, the capital of the Province of Kasai Central, where she visited health centres and schools that have been affected by the violence. By talking to children who have left the militias, she learned of their suffering, but also of their hope for peace and their wish to go back to school.
“Abuses against children must stop. Children should feel safe in their homes, at school or in the playgrounds, and should not be forced to fight or be injured or killed during violence“, said the UNICEF Regional Director. “Children who are part of militias or who are suspected of being so are victims and should be treated as such by the authorities of the country“.
The health and education of children are also jeopardised. Children face the risk of epidemics, as the immunization cycle of many children has been interrupted. In addition, 400,000 children are at risk of severe acute malnutrition. Since the beginning of the crisis, attacks on more than 200 health centres and 400 schools have been reported, and this endangers the access to basic health and educational services.
In order to meet the needs of the people of Kasai, the Government, UNICEF and their partners have launched major campaigns for immunization, distribution of mosquito nets and return to school. Some displaced families are starting to return to their communities.
“In this context, I call on all partners to support the humanitarian response so that the people affected can regain access to basic services, and donors should urgently provide funds for humanitarian assistance programmes. Without access to basic services, children will continue to die every day in Kasai. We must size the chance to calm“, said Marie-Pierre Poirier, who met with the Vice Governor of Kasai-Central Province during her visit to Kananga.
In Kinshasa, Marie-Pierre Poirier met with the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Ministers of International Cooperation, Health and Gender, Family and Children. The Regional Director also met with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the representatives of agencies of the United Nations system, and various development partners to stress the importance of protecting children.
Marie-Pierre Poirier also travelled to Goma where she met with the Governor of Nord Kivu Province and learned of the various challenges resulting in the Province.
During her visit, Marie-Pierre Poirier announced that the UNICEF Executive Board had approved the extension of the current cooperation programme between the DRC and UNICEF by one year- until end of 2018. With the Government of the DRC, UNICEF will prepare a new cooperation programme for the period 2019 to 2023, in line with the national priorities and the programmes of other agencies of the United Nations system.
At the end of her visit to the DRC, the Regional Director was happy with the collaboration that exists between UNICEF and the government of the DRC in the implementation of the programmes for the wellbeing of children, while insisting on the progress that still has to be made, especially for children affected by the violence in Kasai.
For more information, please contact:
Yves Willemot, UNICEF DRC, +243 81 88 46 746, [email protected]
Thierry Delvigne-Jean, UNICEF Dakar, +221 778192300, [email protected]
Yves Willemot est le chef de l’Équipe InfoCom de l’UNICEF RDC. Plus que tout, ce qui est important pour lui c'est d'être "tous ensemble pour les enfants".
Yves Willemot is Head of the UNICEF DRC InfoCom Team. More than anything, he believes that the most important is to "be together for the children".
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