The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Saturday denounced an attack that killed 16 people, including five girls under the age of 15, in the northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this attack on innocent children,” said the UNICEF representative in the DRC, Edouard Beigbeder.
According to UN-verified reports, the attack took place on June 3 in Moussa, a village in the Djugu area, north of Ituri province’s capital Bunia. The victims were all formerly displaced persons who had returned to the village.
After the gunfire and knife attack, dozens have fled to seek shelter in neighboring villages, UNICEF said. Since the beginning of the year, ongoing violence in Ituri province has taken the lives of more than 300 people.
More than 200,000 individuals, mostly children, have fled intensifying violence in Djugu, Mahagi and Irumu areas in Ituri province, seeking shelter in host communities and extremely overcrowded displacement sites in and around Bunia.
Moreover, UNICEF received some 100 allegations of serious child rights violations, such as rape, killing and maiming, in addition to attacks on schools and health centers, during April and May alone.
Last month, the UN specialized agency warned of the quickly deteriorating security situation there and urged the DRC government and international community to act urgently to avert a crisis that would forcibly uproot and endanger even more children. “We call on all parties to respect the rights of women and children,” said the UNICEF representative.