OSLO, Norway, November 25, 2021 / APO Group / –
A new wave of violence in Ituri province in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo has forced aid organizations to reduce or suspend their activities, leaving thousands of families without vital humanitarian support, including food assistance, education and health services.
Save the Children, the Danish Refugee Council (RDC) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) are among the organizations that have had to temporarily reduce or suspend their activities since the fighting escalated over the weekend. More than 320,000 people in Djugu territory are now at risk of being cut off from humanitarian assistance, the three organizations warn.
The reduction and suspension of activities comes at a time when the country is facing the greatest hunger crisis in the world in this century. In Ituri province alone, more than half of the population, almost 3 million people, face extreme levels of hunger. Of all the provinces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ituri has the highest number of people suffering from extreme hunger, and nutrition and health actors like Save the Children have now lost access.
“1.5 million people are already displaced in Ituri, half of them children. They depend on humanitarian assistance to survive. Disruption of access to food, water, shelter, health care and protective services will only push these extremely vulnerable populations into the abyss, ”said Caitlin Brady, NRC Country Director.
Many armed actors in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been accused of serious violations of children’s rights in conflicts.
“Children and women are paying the highest price in conflict. Hospitals have been attacked and have denied pregnant women and starving children access to medical care; schools have been attacked, denying children the right to education; Children are likely to be recruited more and more by armed groups and even killed in violence. In our ongoing programs in the area, for weeks now, more than 85,000 children have been left behind due to lack of access in their communities or health centers that used to serve them, ”said Save the Children’s Country Director Amavi Akpamagbo.
“Women and children face extreme levels of physical and sexual violence at the hands of armed actors. We have programming to protect these groups, but it is increasingly difficult to access them safely. We must see an end to abuses and impunity, ”said Martine Villeneuve, national director of the Danish Council for Refugees.
The three organizations urge all parties to the conflict to safeguard the lives and dignity of civilians and allow safe and principled humanitarian access to all affected populations.
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