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DR of Congo: UN delivers food aid to thousands

DR of Congo: UN delivers food aid to thousands fleeing fighting in east

As thousands of people flee fighting in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the United Nations food relief agency is airlifting 30 tons of aid this week via UN peacekeeping helicopters.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) reported yesterday that it urgently needs $20 million to help about 800,000 internally displaced people and refugees in the eastern part of the vast African nation. For the entire country, WFP needs $75 million for a $191 million recovery operation that will help up to 1.6 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and other vulnerable people until June of this year.

Last week, helicopters from the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) began transporting UN supplies, including seven metric tons of WFP fortified maize flour, to Mitwaba town, located about 60 kilometres from Lubumbashi in Katanga Province. WFP’s partner, Action Contre La Pauvrete, began distributing the food on Saturday.

In addition, trucks loaded with 100 tons of WFP maize flour, enriched vegetable oil and salt left Lubumbashi last week for Mitwaba. The food sent by road and air should cover the needs of 13,600 displaced people for two months.

The consequences the five-year-long civil war that ended in 2002 and ongoing unrest have devastated people’s food security, WFP said. Farmers fear for their lives and cannot tend their fields and sexual violence against women continues.

Felix Bamezon, WFP’s Country Director in DRC, said the country’s needs remain very acute and the agency’s operations are badly under-funded. “We had to close a sub-office in Mbuji-Mayi, the capital of Kasaï Oriental province, in September because of the lack of funding,” he said.

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