Militia violence threatens 3 mln displaced children in DRC: UNICEF

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UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) -- The lives and futures of more than 3 million displaced children are at risk in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as a result of militia violence, said a report of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) released on Friday.

In the east of the country, a succession of brutal attacks by fighters using machetes and heavy weapons have forced whole communities to flee with only the barest of possessions. Entire families, including children, have been hacked to death. Health centers and schools have been ransacked, and whole villages set ablaze, according to the report.

UN figures show that there are currently 5.2 million displaced people in the DRC, more than in any country except Syria. Half of them have been displaced in the last 12 months.

Displaced families live in crowded settlements that lack safe water, health care and other basic services. Others are accommodated by impoverished local communities. In the most violence-afflicted provinces of Ituri, North Kivu, South Kivu, Tanganyika, more than 8 million people are acutely food insecure.

The UNICEF report, "Fear and Flight, an uprooted generation of children at risk in Democratic Republic of Congo," recounts the testimony of children who have been recruited as militia fighters, subjected to sexual assault, and suffered other grave violations of their rights.

Delivering relief assistance to populations who have been displaced is complex, and often hampered by insecurity and a weak transport infrastructure. Unfortunately, UNICEF's 2021 humanitarian appeal for 384.4 million U.S. dollars is currently only 11 percent funded, said the fund. Enditem

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