YAOUNDE, Cameroon

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has provided life-saving assistance to 100,000 children and their families in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the UN agency said on Monday. 

In a statement, UNICEF said armed clashes have intensified in Djugu, Mahagi and Irumu territories in Ituri province.

“Over 1.6 million people – the majority of which are women and children – are currently displaced in DRC’s Ituri province and have ‘’sought shelter in host communities and already overcrowded displacement sites in and around Bunia, Ituri’s main town,” according to UNICEF.

‘’The situation of children is particularly concerning, as 151 allegations of serious child rights violations, such as rape, killing and maiming, attacks on schools and health centers have been recorded since May to June 2020,” the UN agency added.

It said many children might not have a place to study when schools reopen next month, as 165 schools have been destroyed since January 2020.

“While demobilization and reconciliation efforts by the Congolese government have revived hopes for peace in Ituri, thousands of internally displaced families and children lack access to basic services, education and healthcare,” according to the statement.

Since December 2017, violence in northeastern Ituri has left nearly 1,000 people dead and half a million displaced, according to the International Crisis Group.

In January, the country’s army launched an operation against militants in the gold-rich province as part of a wider offensive launched last October.

Most of the militia groups have set aside their political demands, and are involved in mineral trafficking.

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