Terror brings schooling to a halt in DRC


DRC army neutralises M23 rebels. File photo by Junior D. Kannah/AFP/Getty Images)

from JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
DRC Bureau
KINSHASA, (CAJ News) – SCHOOL-AGED children are paying a heavy price for the growing conflict and insecurity in the eastern Democratic of Republic of Congo (DRC).

Around 750 000 of the minors have seen their education disrupted in two most conflict-affected provinces- Ituri and North Kivu.

New figures released by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) indicate that between January 2022 and March 2023, at least 2 100 schools have been forced to stop operating because of the deteriorating security situation.

The clashes featuring armed groups and the national army have been especially damaging for the nearly 240 000 recently displaced children living in the vast camps around Goma, the capital of North Kivu.

Violence by armed groups has forced thousands of families from their homes in search of safety, preventing their children from attending school.

“Hundreds of thousands of children who should be safely learning in the classroom, have instead been displaced by violence and are living in desperate conditions, and in vast and overcrowded camps,” said Grant Leaity, UNICEF representative in DRC.

The figures collated by a UNICEF-led education coordination group composed of national authorities, network of local and international NGOs in North Kivu and Ituri show that 119 schools have been attacked, occupied or temporarily used by armed groups.

About 1 700 schools have been forced to close due to persistent insecurity, mostly because they are in areas controlled by armed groups.

Almost 300 schools cannot operate because they are being used as shelter by people displaced by conflict.

Separate UN figures published earlier this year show that conflict in the east of DRC has displaced more than 5,3 million people, with more than 800 000 others forced to flee their homes in North Kivu alone since the start of the M23 rebel crisis in March 2022.

The majority of children living in the displacement camps are not able to attend school at all, with only a minority of children able to access UNICEF-supported Child Friendly Spaces or Temporary Learning Centres.

– CAJ News

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