Malnutrition starts killing children in Congo
UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that as much as 400,000 children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are now at risk of death on the weight of food shortages caused by conflict and displacement.
UNICEF Spokesperson Christophe Boulierac said that before violence flared in mid-2016 between government forces and tribal militia across the vast region, the people of the Kasais had little experience of conflict, a situation that worsened more than a year after.
“What I saw really shocked me at a personal level…The situation there is absolutely scary, in the sense that people had to flee in the bush (with) family, children”, Boulierac said.
“They had to stay a few months because of the violence. They had no proper food, they had no proper water to drink. And now that the violence has decreased they come back,” he added.
Right now, some 3.8 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in the Kasais, including 2.3 million children.
According to a UNICEF report published last week, at least half of all children under-5 years of age in the region – that’s 770,000 – are suffering from acute malnutrition, including 400,000 who are severely malnourished.
UNICEF said that many families driven from their homes have been unable to plant and harvest their crops for three successive seasons.
It also warns that thousands of children have been recruited into armed groups and militias and that hundreds of schools and health centers have been looted, burned or destroyed.
To support its programs for the children of Kasai in 2018, UNICEF has appealed for a budget of $88 million, which to date is only 25 percent funded.