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DRC: more than 200 children feared dead in flash floods, 90 left unaccompanied 

Devastating flash floods and mudslides are feared to have killed more than 200 children with another 90 children separated from their families or with their parents feared dead in the province of South Kivu, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in one of the country’s deadliest natural disasters, Save the Children said.
12 May 2023

Over the past week, floods have killed about 410 people, half of them children, including at least 30 students and 6 schoolteachers. More than 5,500 people are still missing. An estimated 3,000 homes have been destroyed and six schools washed away. 

The province of South Kivu is going through its worst food crisis in a generation and has been affected by armed conflicts and violence for several years, as well as outbreaks of cholera and measles. At least 1.8 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in South Kivu, where 20% of the population is internally displaced. 

Cecilia Thiam, Save the Children’s Humanitarian Director in the DRC, said that erratic rain patterns including flooding have become more common in recent years due to the climate crisis.

“The floods have had a devastating impact on communities in South Kivu. We are deeply concerned for the safety and wellbeing of the children affected, including those who have tragically lost parents or who remain unaccompanied and separated from their families”.

She said thousands of homes have been destroyed by the torrential rains and many key roads cut by mudslides, which was hampering the delivery of desperately needed aid. Save the Children has despatched emergency response teams to the affected areas to support government operations and is setting up two temporary learning spaces with school canteens to ensure that children don’t stop going to school. 

“This past week’s tragic floods show once again that the world’s most vulnerable communities are bearing the brunt of the climate crisis. Preparation and adaptation for such extreme weather events must be made a priority,” said Thiam.

In addition to setting up temporary learning spaces, Save the Children is supporting communities affected by the floods by providing medical supplies to health clinics, as well as a combined 3,500 medical, sanitation, cholera and menstrual health management and education kits.

Over 26.4 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in the DRC – or about one in every four of the population - including 14.2 million children.

Save the Children has worked in the DRC since 1994 to meet humanitarian needs linked to the displacement of populations due to armed conflict in eastern provinces, especially in North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri and Kasai-Oriental and Lomami in the centre of the country.

ENDS

MEDIA CONTACT: media.team@savethechildren.org.au.

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