DR Congo: Rebels destroy 150 schools, 22 health centers

By Godfrey Olukya

KAMPALA, Uganda (AA) – Over the last two months some 150 schools and 22 health centers have been destroyed by rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to UN officials.

UNICEF said the schools and health centers were destroyed by Cooperative for the Development of Congo (COCEDO) rebels in the restive eastern part of the country, said UN radio in the republic on Saturday.

Over 200,000 people have also been displaced, and rampant rapes and killings were also reported, it added.

''More than 150 schools were damaged and looted in the Djugu, Mahagi and Irumu territories in the Ituri province by the armed group CODECO. 22 health centers have been destroyed along with large stocks of vaccines,” UNICEF said in a statement.

It said that children are the main victims of recent violence in Ituri, as a lack of access to shelter, nutrition, health, and education has made children particularly vulnerable to abuse, violence, and exploitation.

Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF representative in the country, called on humanitarian workers to act quickly to avoid a crisis that would endanger many children there.

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UNICEF has already ensured access to quality education for around 50,000 children in Ituri, and 127 unaccompanied children have been reunited with their families.

The CODECO rebel group has caused great suffering among locals in the region since being formed in Ituri this January, reportedly by Lendu tribesmen who say they are marginalized by the government.

A report this week by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said during the time of the coronavirus pandemic, some 480,000 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo have fled their homes due to clashes between armed groups and the country’s army.

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