400,000 children at risk of starvation in Congo: UNICEF

400,000 children at risk of starvation in Congo: UNICEF
# 25 May 2017 02:11 (UTC +04:00)

An estimated 400,000 children in the Democratic Republic of Congo are at risk of severe acute malnutrition as the the ongoing crisis in Greater Kasai has severely disrupted life-saving interventions in recent months, according to the UNICEF on Wednesday, APA reports quoting Anadolu Agency.


"These children are among the most vulnerable in the country, and now they face a looming crisis if access to basic services is not restored quickly," said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa.


A press release added that across the five provinces of Greater Kasai, critical health infrastructures were no longer operational due to the conflict.


It said that in Central Kasai Province alone, more than one-third of health centers had been forced to close following looting, due to security concerns for staff or lack of medical supplies, depriving children of vital services and medicine.


''Supplies of food and basic necessities are dwindling, and displacement has forced families to live in conditions with inadequate hygiene or sanitation,'' the statement said.


Tajudeen Oyewale, acting UNICEF representative in the country, said the priority over the next few weeks was to reach thousands of severely malnourished children that could no longer be cared for in the health centers that had been destroyed.


"But insecurity in these remote areas is making our work very challenging," Oyewale added.


Central Kasai is the stronghold of the Kamuina Nsapu militia. Violence between the Kamuina Nsapu and the security forces worsened in August 2016 after government troops killed the group’s leader.


So far more than 400 people have been killed in the fighting between Congolese security forces and militiamen, according to the UN.