BRAZZAVILLE – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today started to airlift urgent food assistance from Pointe Noire to Impfondo in Likouala province to reach tens of thousands of Congolese refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) who have moved into northern Republic of Congo (RoC).
“Getting regular food supplies to such a remote area has been a major logistical challenge, and we had no other resort than to start airlifts from Pointe Noire to beef up our food stocks,” said Alix Loriston, WFP Representative in the Republic of Congo.
More than 120,000 Congolese have fled violent clashes in the DRC since October last year and crossed the river westwards into the Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.
WFP has been distributing food to Congolese refugees since the end of November, providing assistance to more than 59,000 mainly women and children. The most recent distribution was carried out at the end of February for 3,000 new arrivals in Betou district.
The airlift will allow WFP to replenish food stocks with 600 metric tons of maize, pulses and salt, enough to distribute emergency rations for two weeks to some 100,000 refugees.
Until now, WFP has been moving food along a road corridor from the Central African Republic and has opened the Douala-Betou road corridor. WFP has also dispatched 560 tons of various humanitarian supplies on barges along the Congo and Oubangui rivers from Brazzaville port.
Low water levels on the Oubangui river and insecurity have presented significant challenges. However, a WFP-contracted barge loaded with 250 tons of rice and corn-soya blend, 9,000 litres of fuel, as well as medical kits for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), and vehicles for partner NGO ACTED, reached Ndjoundou on Monday.
Three trucks have also been brought in from the Central African Republic to boost WFP’s delivery capacity to the refugees.
Since 15 February, a WFP Caravan aircraft has been flying humanitarian partners from Brazzaville to Impfondo, and airlifting UNICEF therapeutic milk, FAO fishing and agricultural tools, as well as WFP and UNHCR telecommunication materials and medical supplies for medical charity MDA.
Donors who have contributed to WFP’s Republic of Congo emergency operation include the USA (US$4.5 million), UN CERF (US$3 million), ECHO (US$1.1 million), and France (US$269,000).
For further information:
Jennifer Parmelee, WFP/Washington, Tel. +1-202-6530010 ext. 1149, Mob. +1-202-4223383
Bettina Luescher, WFP/New York, Tel. +1- 646-556-6909, Mob. +1-646-8241112