Crisis in DRC

The scale and complexity of the humanitarian needs and protection concerns in DRC are staggering.  

Poverty is chronic and widespread. The country has seen more than its share of Ebola outbreaks. Cholera is a major public health threat. And the COVID-19 pandemic has further strained already fragile social and health systems. 

Due to recurring conflicts, the DRC is also home to the second-largest displaced population in the world. Children who are displaced live in precarious conditions, with limited access to basic services such as safe water, primary health care and education and at high risk of exploitation and abuse. Violence against women and girls remains prevalent, particularly in conflict-affected provinces, and is further exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis; nearly 30 percent of women and girls in the country are survivors of gender-based violence. 

UNICEF works with partners in the DRC to address the acute needs of those who are displaced and otherwise affected by conflict, natural disasters and public health emergencies, in part by revitalizing and strengthening the capacities of local organizations to support communities, strengthen systems and build resilience. UNICEF also focuses on preventing sexual exploitation and abuse through local training, community engagement and other interventions.

8-year-old Laetitia washes her hands during a UNICEF-supported campaign focused on disease prevention in Butembo, North-Kivu province. ©UNICEF/UN0417635/Wenga

How UNICEF is helping children in DRC

UNICEF’s priorities in DRC include:

  • helping the country eliminate cholera by 2024, by improving community prevention and response among other measures

  • increasing immunization coverage to protect children against measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases

  • screening and treating children for severe acute malnutrition, promoting early detection at both family and community levels and prevention through counseling on infant and child feeding 

  • improving access to safe water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene and improving sanitation systems, especially in rural areas

  • ensuring that children and young people can get mental health services and psychosocial support as needed

  • supporting the release and reintegration of child soldiers from armed forces and groups

  • helping the government’s cash transfer program reach tens of thousands of impoverished households

Children in Moba territory, Tanganyika province, DRC. ©UNICEF/UN0381465/Rice-Chudeau

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Top photo: Djonice, 9 months old, is weighed by a doctor at Kinkole Health Center, Nsele, Kinshasa, standard procedure during a nutrition screening, while his mother Bernice looks on. Babies who are found to be malnourished are referred for care at the clinic, supported by UNICEF. ©UNICEF/UNI357329/Desjardins