Over 200,000 people have been displaced by COCEDO rebels in last two months, says UN radio.

Congolese soldiers from the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) patrol as they search for Mai-Mai Yakutumba rebels in Namoya, Maniema Province, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, April 29, 2018.
Congolese soldiers from the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) patrol as they search for Mai-Mai Yakutumba rebels in Namoya, Maniema Province, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, April 29, 2018. (Reuters)

Over the last two months some 150 schools and 22 health centres have been destroyed by rebels in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to UN officials.

UNICEF said the schools and health centres 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 centres have been destroyed along with large stocks of vaccines,” UNICEF said in a statement.

Internally displaced girls used in armed conflicts by local militia are seen at a safe haven for rescued children in Mwene Ditu in Kasai Oriental Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo, March 15, 2018.
Internally displaced girls used in armed conflicts by local militia are seen at a safe haven for rescued children in Mwene Ditu in Kasai Oriental Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo, March 15, 2018. (Reuters)

'Children are main victims'

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.

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

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 marginalised 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 DRC have fled their homes due to clashes between armed groups and the country’s army.

Source: AA