DRC-Angola Kasai conflict: Responding to urgent needs

What is the current situation in the Kasai region?

Since August 2016, a conflict over tribal leadership has displaced 1.6 million people within the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). A further 35,000 people have fled to neighbouring Angola.

With the security situation improving in recent months, about half of those displaced have cautiously returned home. But they are going back to destroyed villages and they need food, shelter and psychosocial support urgently.

 

DRC-Kasai-mapDRC map showing the Greater Kasai region that has been affected by the conflict.

According to the United Nations, wounds and trauma from the violence are going untreated. Pregnant women aren’t receiving care and people don’t have access to clean water or toilets. 

With up to four planting seasons missed due to the conflict, it is estimated that 3.2 million people are without a reliable food supply, placing children at risk of severe acute malnutrition.

A spate of security incidents and political demonstrations in recent weeks point to a possible resurgence of militia activity.

The World Vision team in the region is monitoring events closely and adjusting activities as needed.

 

DRC Kasai conflict facts

3.2 million

people need food urgently

7 million

children have been affected

Up to 60%

of militia members aged under 18

What has caused the violence in the Kasais?

The conflict began when the government refused to recognise the successor to a local chieftancy named Kamunia Nsapu. He called up a militia group which began engaging government forces. Ethnic conflict escalated from there between pro- and anti-government ethnic groups.

Mass displacement has been driven by a complicated mix of violence between local militias, anti-government insurgencies, inter-ethnic tensions and pro-government movements.

Beyond the crisis in the Kasais, the Democratic Republic of Congo has for many years been wracked with internal conflict and political uncertainty.

How are children being affected by the violence?

Latest estimates suggest that 7 million children have been affected by the conflict.

Some 150,000 children of primary school age are being denied access to education in Kasai Central Province, following confirmed attacks on 400 schools, of which at least 260 were destroyed.

Children have been actively recruited by various militias and self-defence groups. It is estimated that some 40-60 percent of all fighters are under 18, the majority under 15, and the youngest just five years old.

Recently demobilised children require psychological support and rehabilitation services to help them rejoin their families, go back to education and regain their childhoods.

How is World Vision responding to the Kasai crisis?

We have been responding to emergency needs in the Kasai region since July 2017.

In partnership with the United Nations World Food Programme, we have so far distributed food to over 100,000 people in Kasai Central.

We are also working with a local NGO to operate Child Friendly Spaces to provide care and support for 10,000 children affected by the conflict. Four Child Friendly Spaces are currently running with construction underway on two more.

In addition, 15,000 children have received back-to-school packs to encourage them to register for school after returning home from the bush. In partnership with UNICEF, we are helping to rehabilitate 15 schools, provide teacher training and support children to catch up with their learning.

 

DRC-Kasai-foodWorld Vision staff conduct a food distribution in the Tshikula area of Kasai Central.