Title Title
400,000 children seen facing starvation in war-devastated Congo  UN: 400,000 children face starvation in war-devastated Congo
Summary Summary
  Conflict, displacement and abandoned farms leave youngsters at risk in central Kasai region
Highlights Highlights
Content Content
<a href="https://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/media_102307.html">UNICEF</a> on Tuesday warned that more than 400,000 children in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)  — a country nearly twice the area of Britain, France and Germany combined — are severely malnourished and could die within months without emergency intervention. UNICEF is warning that more than 400,000 children in central Congo's troubled Kasai region <span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 1.6rem;">are </span>severely malnourished and could die <span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 1.6rem;">within months without emergency help.</span>
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="963"]<img class="" src="https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4089/4996129141_8ebf3b4e28_b.jpg" alt="" width="963" height="643" /> The conflict has prevented farmers from tilling their land for three consecutive agricultural seasons. Credit: USAID [CC BY 2.0], via <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/usaid_images/4996217365/in/photostream/">Flickr</a>[/caption]&nbsp;  
<span style="font-family: inherit;font-size: 1.6rem">The crisis — the latest to hit the poverty-stricken, strife-torn central African country — is unfolding in the vast region of Kasai, the UN's children fund Unicef said.</span>An 18-month-long combination of violence, mass displacement and slumping agricultural output are having a devastating impact on the very young, it said.  
The children are the neediest of more than 750,000 who are badly malnourished, even though the security situation in some parts has stabilised and displaced people are starting to return home.  
"This nutrition crisis and food insecurity in the Kasai region follows the displacement of thousands of families who have been living for months in very harsh conditions," said Tajudeen Oyewale, Unicef's acting representative in the DRC.  
"The true scale of the problem is becoming clear as people are returning home in some areas where the security situation has improved and health services have started functioning again."  
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="1024"]<img src="https://c1.staticflickr.com/9/8001/7610282678_8939200b33_b.jpg" alt="" width="1024" height="683" /> <strong>Congolese children are at risk of suffering preventable illnesses due to malnutrition caused by conflict and lack of healthcare facilities. Credit: DFID [CC BY 2.0], via <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/dfid/7610282678">Flickr</a></strong>[/caption]&nbsp;  [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="1024"]<img src="http://www.un.org/News/dh/photos/large/2017/April/Kasai_DRC_OCHA_2017.jpg" alt="Resultado de imagen para congo crisis 2017" width="1024" height="683" /> <strong>Returned persons from Kasala village, Kasaï Province, awaiting food distribution by the NGO COPROMOR and Christian Aid. Credit: Joseph Mankamba/OCHA-DRC</strong>[/caption]
Until recently, the diamond-rich Kasai region was deemed a relative haven.  
The situation changed traumatically in 2016, when a tribal chieftain known as the Kamwina Nsapu, who had rebelled against President Joseph Kabila’s regime in Kinshasa and its local representatives, was killed.  
  The crisis is unfolding in a vast region of a central Africa country already plagued by poverty and conflict. An 18-month period of v<span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 1.6rem;">iolence, displacement and abandoned farms has severely impacted the region's young</span><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 1.6rem;">, the UN's children fund UNICEF <a href="https://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/media_102307.html">said in a Tuesday statement</a> from Kinshasa, the capital.</span>
According to UN figures, clashes between local groups and government troops have led to more than 3,300 people deaths and around 1.4 million people have fled their homes since the start of the insurrection by the Kamuina Nsapu militia, which wants the withdrawal of military forces from the area while fields are neglected. The 400,000 children under the age of 5 that the UN children's group identified are among the neediest of more than 750,000 youngsters who are badly malnourished, it said, explaining that acute problems remain even as the security situation in some parts of was stabilizing and displaced populations were starting to return home.
Security in some parts of Kasai has improved recently, but food shortages will haunt the region right up until next June, because the planting seasons for 2017 have been lost, <a href="http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=56829#.WjNpzdfkTIU">Unicef</a> said  
“Families have little to harvest from their own land and nothing to sell at the markets,” it said, adding that conditions are not expected to improve before June.  
Fighting has prevented farmers from tilling their land for three consecutive agricultural seasons, the British charity Oxfam said.  
Unicef, which has been intervening in the <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-42327262">Kasai crisis</a> since January, also said the region's health infrastructure had been devastated.  
"Approximately 220 health centers were destroyed, looted or damaged, leading to a weakening of the health delivery system, reduced access to healthcare and an increased risk in the spread of communicable diseases like measles," it said.  
In October, the UN's refugee agency reported that 3.9 million people had been displaced by fighting in the DRC. It declared the crisis was a "level three" emergency, the highest on the scale.  
Donors have only provided “a fraction” of the sum required, <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/unicef-400000-congo-children-suffering-severe-malnutrition/2017/12/12/1e98726e-df3b-11e7-b2e9-8c636f076c76_story.html?utm_term=.48c9ecea46de">Oxfam</a> said, adding that its project may have to close in March.  
“Governments and international donors need to urgently plug the funding gap,” he said, adding that Oxfam and the U.N. have already halved emergency food rations for thousands of people.  
  "This nutrition crisis and food insecurity in the Kasai region follows the displacement of thousands of families who have been living for months in very harsh conditions," said Tajudeen Oyewale, UNICEF's acting representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. "The true scale of the problem is becoming clear as people are returning home in some areas where the security situation has improved and health services have started functioning again."
  Until recent years, the diamond-rich Kasai region had been <a href="http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/400-000-children-in-DR-Congo-could-die-from-hunger-says-Unicef-/2558-4225636-10el3ew/index.html">deemed a relative haven</a>, according to AFP, the French news agency.  However, in 2016, a tribal chieftain known by the title Kamwina Nsapu <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-39587896">rebelled against President Joseph Kabila’s regime</a> in Kinshasa, leading to violent clashes.
  <a href="https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/southern-drc-violence-has-left-more-than-3000-dead-53242">According to the country's Catholic Church</a>, the clashes between local groups and government troops led to more than 3,300 deaths, including civilians caught in the crossfire. <a href="http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=57281#.WjdTJ1T1X-Y">The UN said</a> about 1.4 million people had fled their homes during of the conflict.
  [caption id="attachment_324628" align="alignnone" width="593"]<a href="http://www.unmultimedia.org/radio/english/2017/05/drc-faces-massive-protection-crisis-amid-ethnic-conflict/20170508_ocha_drc_kasai_joseph-mankambaocha-drc/" rel="attachment wp-att-324628"><img class="wp-image-324628 " title="20170508_OCHA_DRC_Kasai_Joseph MankambaOCHA-DRC" src="http://www.unmultimedia.org/radio/english/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/20170508_OCHA_DRC_Kasai_Joseph-MankambaOCHA-DRC.jpg" alt="" width="593" height="394" /></a> <strong>Aid distribution by UN partners Christian Aid and COPROMOR to villagers from Kasala in Kasai province in March 2017. Photo: OCHA/Joseph Mankamba</strong>[/caption]
  Security in some parts of Kasai has improved recently, but food shortages will continue at least another six months as farmers in the region lost the 2017 planting season. “Families have little to harvest from their own land and nothing to sell at the markets,” UNICEF said in Tuesday's statement.
  Fighting has prevented farmers from tilling their land for three consecutive agricultural seasons, the British charity <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressreleases/2017-12-13/millions-face-severe-hunger-drc-funding-crisis-threatens-delivery">Oxfam reported last week</a>. Donors have only provided “a fraction” of the sum required, Oxfam said, adding that its project may have to close in March, when its funding is expected to run out.
  “Governments and international donors need to urgently plug the funding gap,” <a href="https://www.oxfam.org.uk/media-centre/press-releases/2017/12/millions-face-severe-hunger-in-drc">said Jose García Barahona</a>, Oxfam's country director for the Congo. He said Oxfam and the UN have already halved emergency food rations for thousands of people and many are existing on one meal a day of maize and cassava.
The UN has appealed for $1.7 billion for Congo in 2018, its third-largest appeal after Syria and Yemen, and more than double the amount it requested this year. The UN has appealed for $1.7 billion for Congo in 2018, its third-largest appeal after Syria and Yemen, and more than double the amount it requested this year.
“Guaranteeing access to basic health and nutrition services to returning populations is essential to help malnourished children survive and thrive,” said Tajudeen Oyewale, UNICEF’s acting representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  “Guaranteeing access to basic health and nutrition services to returning populations is essential to help malnourished children survive and thrive,” said Oyewale, UNICEF’s representative.
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