Displacement continues in east DRC - more funds urged

Published on 12 September 2005

WFP is urgently mobilizing food aid 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 agency announced today.

In Katanga, the Congolese army, backed by the UN peacekeeping mission, MONUC, is currently trying to oust the militias that have tortured, raped and killed civilians across eastern DRC, ever since the five-year civil war ended in 2002.

Seeking refuge

The military operation, which began last month, has caused an estimated 36,000 people to leave their homes and seek refuge in safer areas.

The number could rise as the humanitarian community reaches areas nearer the operations.

Contingency stocks

We urgently need an additional US$20 million if we are to continue meeting the needs that we regularly see as the cycle of displacement in Eastern DRC continues

WFP's DRC Country Director Felix Bamezon

“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.

"We were also able to pre-position food in two other strategic locations to assist some 23,000 others,” said WFP Country Director Felix Bamezon.

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

Safe corridor

A total of 109 metric tons of food aid destined 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.

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

"Enormous challenge"

New pockets of insecurity regularly result in a new cycle of displaced who urgently need our help

WFP's DRC Country Director Felix Bamezon

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

"But 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,” said Bamezon.

Cutting back

In Lumbumbashi, WFP’s stocks of maize meal, the main component of WFP’s food basket for the displaced, are running low.

As new maize supplies are not due to arrive until February 2006, the agency has been forced to cut back its support to recovery activities in order to provide assistance to the newly displaced.

Cycle of displacement

Katanga is not the only province experiencing a cycle of displacement; tens of thousands of Congolese continue to rely on humanitarian assistance elsewhere.

In the Ituri District, WFP has assisted more than 23,000 displaced people; fighting in North Kivu Province has led to 8,000 newly displaced; and in South Kivu Province, militias – which have so far refused to be demobilized or reintegrated into the Congolese army – continue to roam.

The nutritional status of over 31,000 IDPs in South Kivu is of major concern.