DR Congo: UNICEF seeks to get 150,000 back to school
UNICEF is launching a campaign to get 150,000 primary school-aged children back to school in a volatile region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The campaign follows more than a year of clashes between militias and security forces that have displaced thousands of families and left 850,000 children without access to essential services like education and health care.
UNICEF estimates that in the Kasai region 440,000 children were prevented from finishing the previous school year due to insecurity. It said that more than 400 schools have been attacked and closed.
"It is crucial for children to return to school to restore a sense of normalcy in their lives after months of fear and uncertainty," said Dr. Tajudeen Oyewale, UNICEF's acting representative in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The campaign includes communication activities encouraging parents to enroll their children, distribution of school supplies, and training for 2,750 teachers in peace and education and psychosocial support.
The Kasai region became chaotic in August 2016 when police killed Kamuina Nsapu, the leader of a militia bearing his name. The militia went on rampages, attacking villages and killing civilians and security personnel.
Earlier this month the UN issued a warning over what it calls human suffering on an enormous scale in Kasai.
"Local armed groups have systematically destroyed or pillaged health posts, schools, and other public buildings. Teachers and nurses have fled or have been killed," it said in a statement.
The UN estimates that 1.4 million people have been displaced due to the the conflict that now plagues nine of the 26 provinces in the DRC.