The United Nations humanitarian chief and the U.N. agency for child welfare, UNICEF, are calling on the new government of the Democratic Republic of Congo to commit humanitarian aid to people in war-torn areas where some 13 million people are still struggling for access to food, housing and education after years of violent conflict.
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore and Undersecretary for Humanitarian Relief Mark Lowcock returned from a trip to the DRC this week calling for "urgent and sustained funding" to help some 4 million malnourished children, as well as vulnerable communities like the disabled.
The U.N. representatives met with President Felix Tshisekedi and had what they called "constructive discussions" with him on humanitarian aid.
"In conflict-affected areas of the country," Fore said, "children and young people have been recruited as fighters, sexually assaulted and denied education, health, and protection services."
The representatives also met with health minister Oly Ilunga to discuss the recent Ebola virus outbreak in Beni and Butembo. The United Nations says over 1,000 children have been separated from their parents or orphaned due to Ebola, and in this outbreak, children account for one-third of all Ebola cases.
Lowcock, the humanitarian relief authority, said the key to defeating Ebola is community involvement.
"Only if local people are fully involved and consulted can the outbreak be defeated," he said. "That means engaging them actively in the response, as well as doing better to meet their wider needs."
Fore, the director of UNICEF, called on the new government of DRC and the international community to "do better for children."