An acute hunger emergency ravaging Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)’s strife-torn Greater Kasai region could transform into a long-term disaster if additional resources are not made available urgently, the United Nations food relief agency warned Thursday.
“ Without immediate donor support, many – particularly women and children – will die,” said Claude Jibidar, the head of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) operations in the DRC.
The eruption of violence in what used to be a poor but peaceful region has claimed countless lives and forced nearly 1.4 million people from their homes.
The crisis has also resulted in traditionally high malnutrition rates to sky-rocket and according to estimates, 3.2 million people are “desperately” short of food, the UN agency said.
“A lull in fighting has allowed more staff to be deployed [and] aid workers have fanned out into the Kasai countryside. [We have] co-ordinated multi-agency logistics and humanitarian flights,” it added.
WFP has been working against the clock to help ever more people. Its efforts have helped a population that is growing rapidly by the day – from 42,000 people assisted in September to 115,000 in October and 225,000 in November.
However, money is quickly running and WFP plans to feed almost half a million people in December seem impossible as its resources are so depleted that only half-rations can be distributed.
At the same time, donor assistance is extremely scarce.
Hunger not only puts lives at risk: it is forcing people into prostitution and increasing the risk of sexual violence, stressed Mr. Jibidar, calling on Government partners to do all in their power to “spare Kasai from the kind of decades-long humanitarian catastrophe that has plagued other DRC regions.”