DR Congo: Children’s access to education under threat from ongoing violence in Kasai region

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DR Congo: Children’s access to education under threat from ongoing violence in Kasai region

As school year begins, UNICEF and partners launch campaign to help 150,000 children return to school

15 September 2017 – A large campaign to get 150,000 primary school-aged children back to the classroom has kicked off in the volatile Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) following months of clashes between militias and security forces that have displaced thousands of families and left 850,000 children without access to essential services like education and healthcare.

UNICEF estimates that in the five provinces hit hardest by the crisis – Kasai, Kasai Central, Kasai Oriental, Sankuru and Lomami – 440,000 children were prevented from finishing the previous school year because of insecurity. Since the start of the crisis, more than 400 schools have been attacked, and the fear of violence means that parents are reluctant to send their children to school.

“It is crucial for children to return to school to restore a sense of normalcy in their lives after months of fear and uncertainty,” said Dr Tajudeen Oyewale, Acting Representative of UNICEF in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The back-to-school campaign carried out by UNICEF and its partners across the Kasai region includes communication activities encouraging parents to enroll their children, distribution of school material for the most vulnerable children and training for 2,750 teachers in peace-education and psychosocial support.

In order to create a safe return to school, UNICEF supported the training of teachers and conducted awareness-raising amongst communities on risks related to mines and war remnants in the school environment.

The violence that started a year ago has expanded throughout the Kasai region and even beyond, forcing thousands of children and their families to flee into the bush to escape the fighting.

“Children who have returned home after hiding for months all speak of their eagerness to be back in school,” said Oyewale. “The same goes for all the children who have been compelled to take part in the hostilities in one way or another. They are looking to the future, and they know education is a way forward.”

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For further information please contact:

Unicef UK Press Office on +44 (0)20 7375 6030 or media@unicef.org.uk

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Unicef is the world’s leading organisation for children, promoting 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. Unicef UK raises funds to protect children in danger, transform their lives and build a safer world for tomorrow’s children. As a registered charity we raise funds through donations from individuals, organisations and companies and we lobby and campaign to keep children safe. Unicef UK also runs programmes in schools, hospitals and with local authorities in the UK. For more information please visit unicef.org.uk