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Fighting in DR Congo disrupts education for 750,000 children: UN

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-03-30 10:38

A woman holds a child in hospital in Mukondi, about 30 kilometers from the town of Beni in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, on March 10, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

UNITED NATIONS - Fighting in two provinces of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has disrupted the education of some 750,000 children, a UN spokesman said on Wednesday.

New figures released by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) showed that between January 2022 and the present, in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri at least 2,100 schools were forced to close because of a worsening security situation, said Stephane Dujarric, the chief spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Dujarric said "the scale of the crisis means that the majority of children living in displacement camps are not able to have any educational services, only a minority of these children are able to access some UNICEF-supported child friendly spaces or temporary learning centers."

UNICEF is supporting the construction of temporary learning spaces and providing school materials to students, in addition to training teachers on relevant topics, including psychosocial support, he said.

Insecurity has been especially damaging for the nearly 240,000 recently displaced children living in the vast camps around Goma, North Kivu's provincial capital, UNICEF said in its report.

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

The UNICEF report said 119 schools have been attacked, occupied or temporarily used by armed groups. Nearly 1,700 schools closed due to persistent insecurity, mainly because they are in areas controlled by armed groups.

However, according to UNICEF, direct conflict or insecurity alone did not close schools. Nearly 300 schools couldn't operate because they are being used as shelter for people displaced by conflict.

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