UNICEF - Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this attack on innocent children,” said Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF Representative in the DRC. "We call on all parties to respect the rights of women and children.”
A people constantly fleeing
According to UN-verified reports, the attack took place in Moussa, a village in the Djugu area, north of the Ituri capital Bunia. The 16 victims were formerly displaced persons who had returned to the village and were killed in an attack using gunfire and knives. As a result, dozens of people have fled Moussa and taken shelter in neighbouring villages.
The violence is growing
More than 300 people have now died as a result of the ongoing violence in Ituri Province since the beginning of the year. During April and May alone, UNICEF has received more than 100 allegations of serious child rights violations, such as rape, killing and maiming, and attacks on schools and health centres in Ituri.
Last month UNICEF warned that the security situation in Ituri is deteriorating fast and called on the international community and the Government of DRC to act quickly to avert a crisis that will forcibly uproot and endanger even more children.
Reprisals against government forces target civilians
According to UNHCR spokesperson Charlie Yaxley, tensions have been on the rise since December 2019 with the launch of a government-led military operation against various armed groups operating in the area. Violence has surged since mid-March as the number of counter-attacks by armed groups have multiplied.