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UNICEF pleads for funds to save thousands of dying children in Congo's Kasai region

Democratic Republic Of Congo

The United Nations agency for Children UNICEF on Friday published a report saying at least 770,000 children under the age of five suffer from acute malnutrition in the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Spokesman Christophe Bouliera Reuters TV in Geneva that UNICEF had appealed for $88 million to provide assistance in Kasai, but said only about 25 percent of the funds were received, far from enough to provide adequate medical care.

“We have now children coming back from the bush after months of violence in a very bad nutritional situation. We think that 770,000 children suffer from acute malnutrition, including 400,000 children who suffer from severe acute malnutrition. A child suffering from severe acute malnutrition is a child who might die at any time, they are very very fragile. These are not new numbers, but it is extremely serious to see that the funds are not here,” Bouliera said.

The worst eruption of violence in decades in the region in 2016, with fighting between the army and the Kamuina Nsapu militia, forced an estimated 1.5 million from their homes.

“It’s very, very worrying to see that two or three harvests were failed, and there is not enough food at this very important time, and it is also very concerning to see that not all of the health areas, especially those who have been attacked during the violence, have enough ready-to-use therapeutic food, and enough supply, enough material, food and medicines, to provide and give to children,”

The guns have fallen silent, but food insecurity remains high as armers have been unable to plant their crops for the last two seasons due to fighting that has seen their villages and fields pillaged.

As hundreds of thousands of civilians are now returning home, hunger and disease are eclipsing guns and machetes as the region’s most prolific killers.

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