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UN: More Than 2 Million Malnourished Children in DRC at Risk

FILE - Congolese refugees look on during the distribution of biscuits in Sebagoro, Uganda, on Feb. 15, 2018.

The United Nations warns more than two million severely acutely malnourished children in Democratic Republic of Congo are at risk of dying unless they receive urgently needed therapeutic aid.

Years of violence and unrest in Democratic Republic of Congo have displaced more than 4.5 million people, creating widespread poverty and hunger. The United Nations refers to DRC as one of the world's most complex humanitarian crises.

Internally displaced Congolese children sleep in a boat on the shore line of Lake Albert on March 05, 2018 in Tchomia.
Internally displaced Congolese children sleep in a boat on the shore line of Lake Albert on March 05, 2018 in Tchomia.

It says this catastrophic situation has worsened in recent months because of an uptick in fighting in many parts of the country, causing more people to flee their homes and more people to sell everything they own to feed themselves.

U.N. aid agencies are on the ground ready to aid millions of people in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. But, they say they lack the funds to help them.

For instance, the U.N. migration agency says its $75 million appeal for DRC has received only $4.7 million. Spokeswoman Olivia Headon said if IOM had more money, it could provide many of the internally displaced with emergency shelters.

"We would be able to help people build homes, to be able to live in them and be safe from the elements," she told VOA. "We also are doing a lot of work with women in the DRC.I think, in the last couple of months, we have helped about 70 women, we currently have 70 women who are survivors of sexual assaults and have fistulas as a result. So, we do medical support as well."

The United Nations reports children are suffering most from the fighting, instability, lack of food, medical care and other support.Earlier this year, the United Nations launched its largest appeal ever for the DRC. It asked for $1.68 billion to assist 10.5 million people. So far, it only has received about five percent of that amount.

Aid officials say generous contributions from donors could save the lives of more than two million children who are at risk of dying because they are unable to get the treatment they need.