The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today announced that it was resuming emergency airlift operations – for the third time in the past year – for thousands of people trapped by war in the northern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
WFP said the operation would enable the agency to transport food to at least 24,000 people in the northern Katanga province, which remains cut off by war.
"Tens of thousands of people continue to come out of their hiding places in the woods, attracted by food distributions provided in nutritional centres," said Felix Bamezon, WFP's Representative for DRC. "The majority of these people are women and children whose nutritional status is precarious."
When the war that started in 1998 spilled into Katanga, hundreds of thousands of people fled their homes and sought refuge in the bush. The deployment of UN peacekeeping forces encouraged thousands to emerge from their rural hiding places and seek aid in urban centres.
The current WFP airlift, costing $950,000, will provide 1,100 tons of urgently needed maize meal, pulses, corn soya blend, vegetable oil, sugar and salt to feeding centres in eight villages.
Despite the success of the earlier airlifts, and the one under way, WFP said it was deeply concerned about hundreds of thousands of people still living in isolated villages without food. As frontline fighting in the area continues, the villagers' fields are regularly plundered by various armed forces operating in the area.