Kinshasa — The UN World Food Programme (WFP) today began distributing vital food assistance to roughly 81,000 displaced people who have taken refuge in and around Goma, amid the ongoing unrest in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
WFP food rations are being distributed to families in 12 sites where families have sought shelter in and near the city after clashes in North Kivu earlier this week. Most of these families fled to the provincial capital from other camps for the displaced in the surrounding areas, including Kanyaruchynia, 10 kilometers north of Goma, and Sake, west of the city.
"The spiral of violence in North Kivu has cut many people off from their regular food supplies and they need emergency assistance to survive," said WFP Country Director Martin Ohlsen, who estimates that some 140,000 civilians in Goma alone may require WFP food assistance.
"We urgently call on those involved in the ongoing conflict to respect the neutrality of aid workers and ensure that humanitarian agencies have access to those in need," Ohlsen said.
While WFP temporarily suspended food distributions for security reasons when the unrest spread to Goma, the agency's staff have since then been able to evaluate the situation and begin distributing an initial ration of three days' worth of food to families.
These rations consist of maize meal, pulses, salt and cooking oil, contributed by Canada, Japan and the United States of America. WFP will continue assessing the situation as it evolves and will conduct further distributions as needed.
WFP food is also being distributed at Heal Africa hospital in Goma, where some 50 children and adult civilians are being treated for gunshot wounds.
Ohlsen says the precarious security situation may make it difficult for WFP to reach those needing assistance beyond the provincial capital.
The situation in North Kivu - where more than 800,000 people had already been displaced from their homes - remains extremely worrying. Roughly 470,000 displaced people have been receiving WFP food assistance in recent months. This latest wave of displacements further erodes humanitarian conditions not only in North Kivu, but also in nearby provinces.
WFP urgently needs more funding to respond to this latest crisis, and calls on the international community to further support its work in DRC. Even before the developments of this week,
WFP faced a funding shortfall of $23 million for the next six months of its emergency operations in eastern DRC, where more than one million people have been receiving WFP food assistance in five eastern provinces. The new unrest will increase humanitarian needs.
WFP is grateful for a new contribution from Canada of $2 million, which will be used to buy enough maize, pulses and vegetable oil to feed 100,000 displaced people for a month. WFP plans to purchase the maize and pulses locally in DRC or from other countries in the region, which should allow them to arrive more quickly.
Altogether, some 2.4 million people are displaced in eastern DRC, according to the October reports of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
For more information please contact (email address: email@example.com):
Fabienne Pompey, WFP/Kinshasa, Mobile +243 97 0000 292,
Djaounsede Pardon WFP/Goma, Mobile +243 81 700 68 41
Challiss McDonough, WFP/Nairobi, Tel. +254 20 762 2336, Mobile +254 707 722 106