More than a hundred children have been killed in the last month alone in the Congo with hundreds more used as human shields, devastating new figures reveal.
More than 60,000 people have been displaced in the last month alone, UN data said, adding to the 3.8 million displaced nationally.
The crisis driven by conflict in the war-torn region means the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has more displaced people than any other country in Africa, including Eritrea and Somalia.
The fighting has left 140 children dead since June, the United Nations confirmed, with Christian charity World Vision calling for a urgent response to halt the escalating violence.
Trihadi Saptoadi, from the charity's campaign to stop violence against children, said: 'This is first and foremost a child protection crisis. And one of the world's worst. Children are being killed, and most of those caught up in the fighting are under the age of 18.
'They are the first victims of this violence.'
A new report from World Vision warned a failure to provide immediate aid to youngsters who stop being child soldiers will lead to more deaths.
'What these children need now is support, to help them recover and rebuild. They need peace and stability,' Saptoadi added.
'It will take mediation and peacebuilding, provided by the government and partners. It will take urgent and sustained funding. And it will take a commitment. It's not impossible but it must happen now.'