World Vision responds with urgent humanitarian support amid increased violence in Eastern DR Congo
Children are being separated from their families and going without food for days after fleeing renewed violence in Democratic Republic of the Congo.
World Vision is responding after more than 61,000 people were displaced by fighting in the east of DR Congo, where armed groups are terrorising villagers.
DR Congo experiences regular bouts of violence but the latest surge is of particular concern as it has plunged the fragile nation into further food insecurity, with children paying the highest price.
World Vision has delivered food to thousands of people fleeing the latest violence, including children arriving unaccompanied at schools and churches, desperate for food, shelter and news about their families.
World Vision Australia CEO Daniel Wordsworth said the situation was heart-breaking, and putting thousands of vulnerable children at risk.
Daniel said the generosity of Australians who supported World Vision would help feed displaced children and families, some of whom hadn’t eaten for days.
“The food we are supplying will help keep the survivors of these attacks alive but the longer-term consequences for children are potentially devastating,” Daniel said.
Those fleeing the fighting between Democratic Republic of Congo Forces and M23 rebels were facing abysmal temporary living conditions in schools, church compounds, and open-air settlements. Water is limited and sanitation almost non-existent, increasing the threat of disease.
“Families and children driven from their settlements become much more vulnerable to forced marriage, rape, school drops outs and recruitment into armed groups,” Daniel said.
“This could be something children will never recover from. Urgent humanitarian support for their immediate and longer-term needs is essential to avoid the worst-case outcomes for them.”
A distraught boy, 12, sheltering at Kanyarucyinya Primary School in the volatile Nyiragongo territory told World Vision: “I do not know where my father and mother are. I cannot find them. I think they are dead. No one can help me.”
A mother at the same school, Riziki Kamete, who received food aid from World Vision at the weekend, told staff at the time: “We’ve had no food to eat since Tuesday. We need help to address our sleeping and living conditions. People crowd into the small classrooms. But most of us sleep outside. This crowding, as well as poor sanitation, could lead to disease.”
In response to the latest crisis, World Vision in DR Congo has delivered emergency food rations to 18,700 people including flour, beans, cooking oil and salt to last 14 days.
The organisation is working to boost its response to the urgent humanitarian needs, including in the Nyiragongo and Rutshuru regions where the fighting is concentrated.
In DR Congo, 5.4 million people are facing starvation and regular meals are not a certainty for around 27 million.
Of the 43 countries listed in the 2022 Global Report on Food Crises, DR Congo had the largest number of highly food insecure people.
World Vision in DR Congo has been responding to the food and nutrition crisis across five key regions since September 2021.
Since then, Australians have helped 259,528 people with food, cash and vouchers in North Kivu households and schools.
For further information or to organise an interview, please contact: Cheryl Critchley on 0418 312 596 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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