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UN Distributes Food Aid To Displaced Congolese

UN Begins Distributing Food Aid To Displaced Congolese

New York, Nov 5 2008 10:10AM

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today began distributing food to over 135,000 people displaced by fighting in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which has forced an estimated 250,000 people to flee their homes in recent months.

The distributions are aimed at internally displaced persons (IDPs) in six camps around Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu, which has been the scene of deadly fighting between Government forces (FARDC) and the rebel National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), led by renegade general Laurent Nkunda.

While clashes are continuing in some parts of North Kivu, a recent ceasefire is reportedly still holding in Goma, which has a swelling population of between 700,000 and 1 million.

“WFP is responding as quickly as possible to deliver food to people who’ve been brutalised too many times over many years,” said Mustapha Darboe, WFP Regional Director for Southern, Eastern and Central Africa.

“Now they are suffering again. Tens of thousands have been uprooted in North Kivu and we are doing everything we can to find them and help them.”

The 10-day rations will be distributed in all camps at the same time to avoid any disturbances, as well as to ease the pressure on food supplies in Goma since the violence temporarily cut off many delivery routes.

The agency is moving food stocks to Goma from its office in Bukavu in South Kivu, and bringing in supplies from Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania.

Assisting WFP with the relief effort is the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which will handle distributions to the estimated 65,000 IDPs who are now gathered at Kibati camp, 15 kilometres north of Goma.

The agency reported that a UN assessment mission to the Rutshuru area – the scene of much of the recent fighting – was forced to cut short its work on Tuesday when it found itself in close proximity to new clashes around Kiwanja, north of Rutshuru town.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has confirmed that three IDP camps in the area were destroyed and emptied, and is trying along with WFP and other agencies to determine what happened to the inhabitants.

“This is a dangerous and unstable environment and it’s going to be challenging to deliver food to where it is needed most. We need proper security in place to ensure everyone involved is safe and that we reach the most vulnerable,” Mr. Darboe said.

WFP added that it is stretched to the limit in DRC, with major new displacement in Orientale province, around Bunia and Dungu, following clashes on two separate fronts in recent weeks. The agency has moved quickly to distribute food to the displaced, but resources are limited and the region extremely difficult to access.

ENDS

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