Escalated Violence in Congo-Kinshasa Displaces 78,000 Children, Resulting in Torn Families – Sci

A nonprofit organization, Save the Children International, SCI, yesterday, raised the alarm over escalation of violence in Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, displacing 78,000 children and ripping thousand of families apart.

According to SCI in a statement made available to Vanguard, at least 78,000 children have flee their homes in the past week, with thousands now on the road to Goma, following renewed fighting between the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) and M23, a non-state armed group, has displaced at least 150,000 people, more than half of them children, since 2 February.

The statement reads in part, “Parents have reported that many children have been separated in the violence, although the number of lost children is unknown.

“Families are seeking refuge in displacement camps, churches, schools and with host families, with thousands now on the road looking for safety in Goma, the province’s capital.

“The use of artillery, drones, and explosives in eastern DRC is killing and injuring civilians and damaging and destroying essential infrastructure, said Save the Children.

“According to local media sources, 19 people have been killed and 27 others injured in the violence, including three young girls. A market was hit on 7 February, and munitions also landed inside a school courtyard and close to a hospital. All schools in the area remain closed.

According to Alicia, who works at a Save the Children partner school in North Kivu, recounted the events on 2 February: “It was last Friday around 5 p.m. that we heard bullets. Everyone fled in their own direction.

“Some children were even lost and have not yet been found. Many parents are crying about the disappearance of their children, but the number of children lost is not yet known.

“The road was cut off. Shops were looted. Schools have been closed and children are no longer studying. In addition, we are not going to return unless the situation improves.”

The Country Director, Save the Children, DRC, Greg Ramm, said: “Children in eastern DRC are living through yet another nightmare. Abrupt violence on the weekend has separated children from their families and forcibly torn them away from their homes.

“Families are now seeking refuge in schools, churches, and hospitals, hoping they won’t get caught in the crossfire. Meanwhile, host families, already stretched thin, are stepping up amid this deepening crisis.

“This region has endured persistent violence, with children growing up in a relentless cycle of death, destruction, and displacement. Children in the DRC are not only witnessing the horrors of conflict but are also being recruited into violent armed groups, facing catastrophic hunger, and enduring sexual abuse.

“Urgent and resolute action is imperative to break the cycle of suffering for these innocent lives.

“The rights and well-being of children across DRC must be prioritised. Children cannot continue to be caught in the crossfire.

“Save the Children calls for stronger and more consistent systems to hold to account the perpetrators of crimes affecting children.

“We call for all those involved in the fighting to affirm and adhere to international laws, human rights provisions, and rules and standards designed to protect children.”

Currently, children and their families are finding it nearly impossible to access services needed for their protection and survival. The only safe route to access the displaced population is via boat.

The DRC has long suffered from repeated cycles of influx of refugees, conflicts and unrest. Today, more than 25 million people are in dire need of humanitarian aid to survive and over seven million displaced.

According to UN Population Prospects, about 52% of the population in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are children.

According to the UN, an offensive in October 2023 displaced more than 450,000 people in North Kivu: The Largest Humanitarian Needs of 2024 – Democratic Republic of the Congo | ReliefWeb.

Save the Children has worked in the DRC since 1994 to meet humanitarian needs linked to the arrival of refugees and the displacement of populations due to armed conflict in eastern provinces.

Save the Children has scaled up its humanitarian response to support existing care systems, training local leaders and communities to prevent and respond to exploitation and abuse, and ensuring access to healthcare through mobile clinics.

It is also helping children access basic education by building classrooms, training teachers, and distributing learning materials.

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