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UNHCR alarmed by surge of violence
in Democratic Republic of the Congo

GENEVA (Xinhua) -- United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, said Tuesday it was alarmed by a recent surge in violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) that had driven large numbers of people to flee eastwards to neighboring Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda.

“Thousands of children, women and men have abandoned their homes, in the midst of intensified military operations against Mai Mai armed groups in South Kivu province,” said UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch at a UN briefing.

Since last week, almost 7,000 people have crossed to neighboring Burundi and an additional 1,200 to Tanzania.

It is believed that many more are displaced inside South Kivu in difficult conditions.

“Refugees we have spoken to say they fled forced recruitment, direct violence, and other abuses by armed groups. Others say they fled in anticipation of military operations and out of fear,” said Baloch.

The UNHCR spokesperson said it was imperative that people fleeing the violence were allowed safe passage, as well as humanitarian access.

Refugees seeking to reach Burundi are mainly crossing Lake Tanganyika on small fishing boats.

But reception conditions at Nyanza Lac and Rumonge where they arrive are sparse, with extremely limited shelter, drinking water, and food, said UNHCR.

Refugees are being transferred to already-crowded transit centers and camps in Burundi’s north and east.

UNHCR said was grateful to neighboring countries for hosting the DRC refugees, and urged them to keep their borders open to those fleeing conflict.



UNICEF seeks 268 mln USD for humanitarian aid to 6.3 mln children in DRC

KINSHASA Democratic Republic of the Congo (Xinhua) -- The UN agency for children (UNICEF) on Tuesday requested 268 million U.S. dollars to provide vital humanitarian aid to 6.3 million children in 2018 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

According to a statement by the agency, the call comes in the context of UNICEF’s 3.6 billion global appeal to provide humanitarian assistance to 48 million children in 51 countries affected by conflicts, natural disasters and other emergencies in 2018.

“The exceptional height of the appeal for humanitarian support in the DRC underscores the extent to which children in the DRC today suffer from the consequences of conflict and epidemics,” said Tajudeen Oyewale, the representative of the agency in the DRC.

The DRC has become the most affected African country by population movements, with 4.3 million internally displaced, including more than 2.6 million children. These children and their families are dependent on humanitarian assistance for their survival. Provinces of Kasai, North Kivu, South Kivu and Tanganyika are the most affected.

“Violence against children must stop and health services and schools can function normally again,” said Oyewale.

In the DRC, more than two million children suffer from severe acute malnutrition, which is 12 percent of the number of cases in the world. Added to this are the cholera and measles outbreaks that hit a record number of children in 2017 and whose impact is likely to expand without an adequate response.

“In order to be able to provide a humanitarian response to meet the needs of children in the DRC in 2018, donors must mobilize. Last year, donors have funded only 51 percent of funds. If the international community does not take immediate steps to protect and provide life-saving assistance to children in the DRC, an increasingly dark future awaits them, “ said Oyewale.



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