1.5 million children affected by violence in Greater Kasai

Child in DRCPRESS RELEASE– The crisis in the Greater Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is having a devastating impact on children, UNICEF warned today. More than 1.5 million children, including 600,000 who have already been displaced from their homes, are at risk due to the extreme violence.

“Children in Greater Kasai are being forced to endure horrific ordeals,”

said Dr Tajudeen Oyewale, UNICEF Representative a.i. in DRC, following a field visit to the affected region. “Hundreds of children have been injured in the violence, with reports of children detained, raped, and even executed. This horrific abuse of children cannot be allowed to continue, and perpetrators must be held to account.”

Violence and instability in the Kasai provinces, among the poorest regions of the country, began in August 2016 after a traditional leader was killed in fighting with security forces, and deteriorated further during the first three months of 2017.

The heavy impact of the crisis on children in Greater Kasai

According to UNICEF estimates:

·         2,000 children are being used by the militias in the affected region.

·         At least 300 children have been seriously injured in the violence.

·         More than 4,000 children have been separated from their families.

The violence has also had a devastating impact on education and health systems in the region. More than 350 schools have been destroyed. In the Province of Kasaï Central 1 in 3 health centers are no longer functional, putting children at an increased risk of disease.

“These children should be safe in their homes, schools and playgrounds, not forced to fight on the battlefield or wounded or killed in the violence,” said Dr. Oyewale.

Unless the situation improves rapidly, UNICEF has warned that the six million children – the entire child population of the three Kasai provinces – are at risk.

UNICEF’s response to the crisis in Greater Kasai

UNICEF has secured the release of 384 children detained or held in the Kasaï region, previously enrolled in the militias.

UNICEF has also scaled up its emergency response in the region, including projects targeting 173,000 people with health, nutrition, protection, education, WASH and Non-food-items (NFI.)

UNICEF renews its call on all parties to the conflict to ensure the rights of children are upheld.

UNICEF is also appealing for funding. To date, the organization has only received US$3.5 million of the US$20.6 million needed to respond to the crisis in Greater Kasai.

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do.  Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org. Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook

Contact:

  • Yves Willemot, UNICEF DRC, +243 81 88 46 746, [email protected],
  • Sylvie Sona, UNICEF DRC, +243 81 70 96 215, [email protected]
  • Joe English, UNICEF New York, + 1 917-893-0692,[email protected]
    Christophe Boulierac, UNICEF Geneva, +41 22 909 5716, +41 799639244,[email protected]
  • Patrick Rose, UNICEF Dakar, +221 78 63 80 250, [email protected]

For more information about Greater Kasai

Photo: UNICEF DRC 2017 Gabriel Vockel

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Yves Willemot

Yves Willemot est le chef de l’Équipe InfoCom de l’UNICEF RDC. Il fait partie de la grande équipe UNICEF depuis longtemps maintenant puisqu’après avoir été leur conseiller régional en communication pour l’Afrique de l’Ouest et l’Afrique Centrale à Dakar, il a dirigé l’UNICEF Belgique pendant 7 ans. 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. He has been part of the large UNICEF team for a long time now since after being their regional communication advisor for the West Africa and Central Africa in Dakar, he led UNICEF Belgium for 7 years.More than anything, he believes that the most important is to "be together for the children".

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