Date Published: 27 January 2009

UNICEF calls for an end to abductions and attacks in DR Congo

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UNICEF has called for an immediate end to abductions, forced recruitment and extreme violence against children and women in North-Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Returning from a mission to Dungu in the Haut-Uele District, Pierrette Vu Thi, UNICEF Representative in the DRC, called for all parties to do everything possible to prevent harm to children and women.

"More people have been killed over the past few weeks in Haut-Uele than over the last six months in North Kivu," she said. "The number of children abducted has reached horrible proportions. We urge all armed groups to immediately end deliberate attacks against civilians, the recruitment and use of children and to release all children in their ranks".

In response to dozens of Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) attacks over the last month, UNICEF and partners are extending emergency interventions. Around 9,000 people, mostly internally displaced persons, have received essential survival items such as cooking sets, soap, blankets, jerry cans, and plastic sheeting for emergency shelter in the last few days. Free health care is being provided to up to 10,000 people in areas of displacement and the vast majority of 114 children who have escaped the LRA have been reunited with their families and are receiving reintegration assistance.

After a joint assessment mission by UNICEF, the International Organization for Migration and Save the Children UK, UNICEF DRC and UNICEF Uganda are coordinating with partners to further protect children separated from their families and assist them reintegrating into their communities.

Based on extensive experience responding to children separated due to LRA attacks in Uganda over the last 25 years, Keith McKenzie, UNICEF Representative in Uganda, said such returning children need community understanding, acceptance and social support.

"The protection of children is a universal imperative, and families, extended families and communities of origin have a pivotal role to play in the reintegration of all separated children," he said.

UNICEF and its partners in the DRC and Uganda continue to coordinate and strengthen responses to provide interim protection and reintegration assistance for returning children and displaced communities.

Africa, DR Congo

Source: UNICEF Press Release

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