As tens of thousands flee fighting in DR of Congo, UN mobilizes urgent food aid

9 December 2005

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is urgently mobilizing food aid, and needs $20 million in additional funding, for tens of thousands of Congolese fleeing their homes in fear of fresh militia attacks in the Katanga region of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is urgently mobilizing food aid, and needs $20 million in additional funding, for tens of thousands of Congolese fleeing their homes in fear of fresh militia attacks in the Katanga region of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

“Fortunately, WFP has sufficient contingency food stocks in the Katanga region and is able to respond quickly, moving one month’s supply of food aid to the town of Dubie where an estimated 13,000 displaced Congolese are arriving,” WFP Country Director Felix Bamezon said today.

“We were also able to pre-position food in two other strategic locations to assist some 23,000 others,” he added of Katanga, where the Congolese army, backed by the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC), is currently trying to oust militias that have tortured, raped and killed civilians across eastern part of the vast country ever since the five-year civil war ended in 2002.

“However, we urgently need an additional $20 million if we are to continue meeting the needs that we regularly see as the cycle of displacement in Eastern DRC continues,” he declared.

As part of its contingency planning, WFP had already airlifted 70 metric tons of food to aid 7,000 displaced people in the hard-to-reach town of Mpiana, north of Dubie, and has helped another 16,000 who have fled south to the town of Malemba-Nkulu.

Nearly 110 metric tons of food for Dubie is now being loaded onto trucks at WFP’s sub-office in Lubumbashi. Once a safe humanitarian corridor is established, the trucks will begin the difficult 500-kilometre journey along poorly maintained roads that are worsened by the heavy rains now falling in the region.

The newly displaced exemplify the enormous challenge of providing critical humanitarian assistance in many parts of the huge country. New pockets of insecurity regularly result in a new cycle of displaced who urgently need our help.

“Unless we get sufficient funding, essential stocks are quickly depleted. These contingency stocks are crucial to our ability to respond promptly to very sudden surges of people in need,” Mr. Bamezon said.

Katanga is not the only province experiencing displacement and tens of thousands of people continue to rely on humanitarian assistance elsewhere. In Ituri District, WFP has helped more than 23,000 displaced people; fighting in North Kivu Province has led to 8,000 newly displaced; and in South Kivu Province, militias that have so far refused to be demobilized or reintegrated into the Congolese army continue to roam.

 

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