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UN says no fewer 800,000 children fled violence in the eastern Congo, where many face being sexually abused or recruited as child soldiers.
UNICEF said on Thursday that the Congo was one of the largest displacement crises for children in the world.
The agency noted that more than 800,000 children have been displaced in the provinces of Tanganyika and South Kivu alone.
“Children in the eastern DRC continue to suffer devastating consequences as waves of violence destabilise the region,’’ Tajudeen Oyewale, UNICEF’s representative in Congo said.
“Many have suffered atrocities at the hands of combatants. It is simply a brutal situation for children with no end in sight,” Mr. Oyewale added.
UNICEF has recorded more than 800 cases of child sexual abuse, although the real figures are believed to be much higher, and more than 3,000 children have been recruited into militias over the past year.
Numerous rebel groups are active in eastern Congo, primarily fighting over the area’s rich mineral resources.
The UN peacekeeping mission has been in Congo since 2010 and has more than 16,000 military personnel deployed to the country.
The country is set to hold long-overdue elections in December after President Joseph Kabila postponed a vote scheduled for November 2016.
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Abiy Ahmed wins the 2019 Nobel Peace Award
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for immersly efforts to end two decades of hostility with longtime enemy Eritrea.
Though Africa’s youngest leader still faces big challenges, he has in under two years in power begun political and economic reforms that promise a better life for many in impoverished Ethiopia and restored ties with Eritrea that had been frozen since a 1998-2000 border war.
“We are proud as a nation,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement, hailing a “collective win for all Ethiopians, and a call to strengthen our resolve in making Ethiopia – the new horizon of hope – a prosperous nation for all.”
It said the prize was meant to recognize “all the stakeholders working for peace and reconciliation in Ethiopia and in the East and Northeast African regions.”
The Nobel Committee’s decision appeared designed to encourage the peace process, echoing the 1994 peace prize shared by Israeli and Palestinian leaders and the 1993 award for moves towards reconciliation in South Africa, said Dan Smith, head of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
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