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Kasaï: children, first victims of the crisis

Nathalie San Gil Coello - UNICEF Belgium
24 July 2018
770,000 children aged less than five are malnourished in the Kasaï region, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


The vulnerable children of the Kasaï are currently living in a situation of extreme poverty, deprivation and conflict. Malnutrition is putting their lives in danger. What is happening in the Kasaï is truly a children’s crisis.

UNICEF alerts the international community about the very worrying humanitarian situation that these children are confronting. More than 770,000 children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition, and 400,000 of them risk dying in a very short time.

Since the beginning of the conflict in 2016, hundreds of thousands of people have been chased from their homes.  These displacements, and the conflict, have devastating consequences for the children. Victims of multiple traumas, certain displaced children have spent months hidden in the bush, without access to health services, clean water and without being able to go to school. Numerous families chased from their homes have not been able to cultivate their fields.

Lusamba Marie Katambua had just brought her sixth child into the world when her husband was killed. She had to flee with the rest of her family into the bush. Hidden for four months, they lived off raw manioc roots and drank dirty water. Just like Marie, others fleeing also had to abandon members of their families who were either too elderly or ill.  

Despite the recent phase of tranquillity, 2.3 million children are still in need of humanitarian aid. Children and their families are emerging from their hiding places and humanitarian workers can finally come to their aid.  

The reintegration of children who were enrolled in the militia into a family framework, as well as getting them back at school, is fundamental. In the field, UNICEF offers them psychosocial support as well as help in the process of reinsertion into their community.

One thing is clear: if urgent measures are not taken to reinforce the humanitarian response, the number of child deaths could increase considerably.

In 2018, Belgium supports the humanitarian actions of UNICEF in the Kasaï region for more than 5.18 million euros . These funds are mainly used to assist displaced people, among other things helping them on their return to their homes.

Learn more  (including testimonies) :


Teacher Edouard Kabukapua, 28, accompanies his students as they sing on their way to their class in a temporary tent school in Mulombela village, Kasaï region (DR Congo)
© UNICEF/Vincent Tremeau
Humanitarian aid DR Congo
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