A sharp increase in violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has forced more than 1 million people to flee their homes in search of safety. During heavy fighting between April 21 and May 5 in the Kasai Oriental region of the country, more than 125,000 people – roughly 8,000 a day – fled to safer areas of the country.
Health and education facilities have been destroyed, houses looted and burned, and violence is rampant. This has forced families and children to flee for their safety into the bush, remote fields and host communities as opposed to official sites or camps where support is available.
People – especially children – are exposed to direct violence, trauma, separation, and health and nutrition risks, including the outbreak of diseases. Armed militia groups in the region include soldiers as young as 12, making recruitment of child soldiers an urgent concern.
Thanks to $300,000 in funding from the Canadian Humanitarian Assistance Fund, Save the Children will be able to meet the urgent protection needs of approximately 9,500 people in the affected region, including 3,500 children. Their activities will focus on providing psychosocial and educational support relating to the specific needs and vulnerabilities of children during armed conflict and humanitarian crises. As such, Save the Children will emphasize the prevention of recruitment of child soldiers into militia and the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence. The aid agency will also work with partners to prevent family separation, care for unaccompanied minors and promote family reunification.
Save the Children has had a strong presence in the Kasai Oriental region of the DRC since 2003. Thanks to its existing knowledge and strong community relationships, the aid agency has unhindered access to the affected area, despite the recent surge in violence.
The Canadian Humanitarian Assistance Fund is a joint mechanism financed by Global Affairs Canada, the Humanitarian Coalition and its member agencies.