SOC International News
Conflict makes Congo "worst place for children".
GOMA, Congo - Packed into squalid refugee camps or roaming in the bush, hundreds of thousands of Congolese children face hunger, disease and sexual abuse.
Weeks of violence have forced more than 250,000 from homes or ramshackle camps where they had taken shelter bringing to over 1 million the number of internal refugees from years of fighting in Democratic Republic of Congo's North Kivu province.
"North Kivu is possibly the worst place to be a child. There is no question that children have been the most severly affected by the recent conflict" said George Graham, spokesman for Save The Children in the provincial capital, Goma.
"When children flee fighting they become more vulnerable to contracting disesease, to becoming malnourished, and vulnerable to predators like sexual abuse, exploitation, violence and recruitment into armed groups," U.N.Children's Fund (UNICEF) spokesman Jaya Murthy.
Hunger and fear stalk Congo refugee camps.
KIBATI Congo - Clutching a small pack of high-energy biscuits Clemintine Riziki slowly chews her first meal in more than a week.
Nine days ago she fled her village in Democratic Republic of Congo's astern North Kivi province when attcking Tutsi rebels burnt down her house and stole her belongings. To compound her worries her family has since doubled in size.
Amid the chaos, debris and noise of a makeshift camp for tens of thousands of civilians displaced by the violence, Riziki gave birth this week to twins just a few kilometres (miles) down the hill from the rebel front line.
Riziki's plight is typical of that of an estimated 200,000 hungry, frightened civilians who are cramped into camps otside and around the North Kivu provincial capital Goma, after fleeing a Tutsi rebel offensive last week and militia and army killings.
Like others displaced by the fighting, Riziki faced a difficult choice: to wait in Kibati for the aid agencies to deliver long over-due food, or risk crossing the front line in the hope of salvaging something from the remains of her home.
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