22 November 2012

Violent clashes between rebel fighters and the Congolese army in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have put thousands of children and their families in extreme danger. 

The Kanyaruchinya refugee camp  - which once hosted 30,000 people - is now empty as residents flee in fear towards the city of Goma. An estimated 100,000 people have been displaced into the city so far.

UNICEF is working to ensure that children in affected areas of Goma are safe and reunited with their families.

"We are on the ground and are reaching out to children affected by the crisis," said Barbara Bentein of UNICEF's DRC office.

As the security situation improves, UNICEF will step up its provision of food, clean water, blankets, medical care and regular school lessons. 

Measures are also being taken to to prevent the spread of cholera, after a worrying series of outbreaks in recent weeks. 

According to a UN report published in November, at least 264 civilians (including 83 children) were executed by armed groups in the area between April and September.

Right now, more than 2.4 million people are displaced within the DRC as a result of fighting between the Congolese army and various rebel groups. More than 60% of them are children and women.

 
Boys stand behind barbed wire that forms a protective barrier around the perimeter of a camp for displaced people in the town of Bunia, DRC in 2003.  © UNICEF/NYHQ2003-0350/ROGER LEMOYNE
Boys stand behind barbed wire that forms a protective barrier around the perimeter of a camp for displaced people in the town of Bunia, DRC in 2003. © UNICEF/NYHQ2003-0350/ROGER LEMOYNE