Africa

Foster families take in hundreds of DRC children in wake of war

Sapa-AFP

Several hundred children remain separated from their parents a month after fighting over the key DRC city of Goma displaced nearly a million people.

DRC children (AFP)

This according to aid agencies on Monday.

Since the M23 rebels seized Goma on November 20 and withdrew 11 days later, 776 children including 429 girls, aged between six months and 14 years, remain in the care of foster families, the UN Children's Fund (Unicef) said.

The fighting in the mineral-rich region sparked "chaotic exoduses" during which five babies were found as people "scattered in every direction" Unicef's Jean Metenier told AFP. "They were the hardest to place."

With the help of photographs circulating through displaced people's camps around Goma, Unicef has managed to identify around 30 children, he said.

Another 103 children have already rejoined their families – those old enough to give their names and say where their parents lived.

"Finding the families is a challenge because of the ongoing insecurity and because people are still on the move," the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.

'Disaster zone'
In mid-December an official of the UN refugee agency said that around 914,000 people were listed as displaced in Goma's North Kivu region.

Tens of thousands of them were thought to be returning home. UNICEF said 80% of the displaced have been staying with volunteer families.

Meanwhile, business leaders in Goma have asked to declare North Kivu a disaster zone so that taxes will be waived for residents trying to rebuild their lives. – Sapa-AFP

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