UNICEF provides immediate assistance to children hit by floods in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s South Kivu, warns of increased risk of cholera outbreak

New Delhi: UNICEF and partners are providing assistance to more than 100,000 people – including 48,000 children – affected by heavy floods in the South Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), warning of an increased risk of a cholera outbreak, as rains continue.

Torrential rains between 16 and 18 April caused the banks of the river Mulongwe and Rusizi to burst and sweep away people and homes in the town of Uvira and surrounding areas. More than 15,000 homes were damaged and about 200,000 people will experience water supply disruption due to the damage to the local water treatment plant.

UNICEF is concerned that disruption in the local water supply will heighten the risk of cholera in an endemic region that has registered more than 1,800 cases since the beginning of January 2020. Around five cases of cholera have already been reported in the displacement sites. The response capacity of the local health authorities is also severely limited because the main health centre situated in Mulongwe has been destroyed.

“Our teams on the ground and our trusted local partners are working around the clock to provide health and nutrition support to thousands of families and their children,” said Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF Representative in DRC. While our interventions also aim at protecting the affected communities from COVID-19, we must not forget that the people of South Kivu are faced with protracted conflict, displacement, natural disasters and disease outbreak that need our immediate attention.”

UNICEF and its partner CARITAS distributed essential non-food items, including sanitation and hygiene kits to 2,000 families to meet their immediate needs. An additional 3,000 families will be receiving supplies in the next few days.

UNICEF and its partners AAP, AVREO, Red Cross, INTERSOS, Médecins d’Afrique, and Oxfam are currently providing the following services:

Medical assistance to children under five, elderly people, pregnant and lactating women;
Supply of basic medicines and equipment to health centres caring for affected populations, including management of cholera cases;
Nutrition support to children suffering from severe acute malnutrition and Vitamin A supplementation for children under 5 in the Uvira Health Zone;
Psychosocial support to affected children and families, and temporary shelter for separated children;
Delivery of infection prevention and control supplies to 8 health centers and two Reference Hospitals;
Installation of 6 water treatment stations providing 240,000 litres of water per day;
Routine vaccination services to children in the Uvira Health Zone.
Four trucks carrying an additional 27 tons of medical, WASH supplies and recreational kits for children arrived in Uvira on Friday 1 May.

Immediate response to the floods was possible thanks to the support of several donors, including the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

The densely populated town of Uvira and surrounding areas host a large number of internally displaced people and refugees from Burundi. There are currently more than 5 million internally displaced people – 58 per cent children – in DRC who are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

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