850,000 children now displaced in conflict-ravaged region of DR Congo

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Thousands of children are being displaced every week as the conflict continues (Julien Harneis)

Children in conflicts, Education Cannot Wait, Education in emergencies, Refugees and internally displaced people, Safe Schools Declaration

The rapidly-growing humanitarian crisis in Greater Kasai has forced 150,000 children out of school and uprooted 1.4 million people from their homes.

Children are continuing to bear the brunt of extreme violence that has rocked an area of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

About 850,000 children are among 1.4 million people displaced in the Greater Kasai region.

“The lives of hundreds of thousands of children and their families in Greater Kasai have been turned upside down by this brutal violence,” said Tajudeen Oyewale, Acting Representative in the DRC for the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF.

Theirworld reported in early June that more than 150,000 children were missing out on education in Greater Kasai because of violence and attacks that had seen over 600 schools damaged.

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More than 150,000 children are missing school because of violence  (Oxfam)

Tens of thousands of people are being uprooted from their homes each week by waves of violent conflict between security forces and militia fighters that began last August. More than 3.7 million have been displaced across the country since then.

“This is a rapidly growing humanitarian crisis and, with our partners, we are working amid great insecurity to try to help these highly vulnerable families,” said Oyewale.

Many schools in Greater Kasai were occupied by military forces or used as emergency shelters for displaced families.

Some schools have been closed for months and parents who have stayed in their communities are often too scared to let their children go to classes.

“For the lucky ones whose schools remain open, they are far too scared to risk going. They can’t sit their exams as a result,” Ulrika Blom, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Country Director, said recently.

Other displaced families are struggling to pay school fees and their children risk being expelled.

Most of those who fled are now living with foster families and relatives in communities that are already among the poorest in the country. 

Others have headed into the bush – where they are suffering from lack of adequate food, shelter, healthcare, water and sanitation.

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