UN World Food Programme

DRC: News Update from Goma

WFP on Monday took part in a multi-agency overnight assessment mission to Rutshuru town and outlying areas. The mission was expected to return to Goma on Tuesday. The results of the assessment will inform WFP’s response over the next few days.

The latest from the WFP team in Goma, eastern DRC:

• On Monday, WFP participated in a multi-agency overnight assessment mission to Rutshuru town and outlying areas. The mission will return to Goma on Tuesday. The results of the assessment will inform WFP’s response over the next few days.

• WFP staff on the mission visited IDP camps around Rutshuru which were completely deserted with many shelters burned to the ground. It is still not clear where all the residents have gone, although local residents reported that some had gone back to their villages. On the road north from Goma, WFP staff saw signs of heavy fighting, including artillery shells and ammunition cases.

• On Wednesday this week, following efforts to alert people to distribution plans, WFP will distribute a 10-day ration to over 135,000 people in six camps around Goma. The distributions will happen on the same day to prevent unrest, and will help reduce pressure on food supplies generally in Goma.

Coordinate food stocks

• In an effort to best coordinate food stocks currently available to humanitarian organizations in Goma, WFP is to focus on the camps around the city and the hinterland areas of displacement in Rutshuru, while the International Committee of the Red Cross will cater for the food needs of the many thousands of displaced people currently in Kibati camp, near the frontline 15 km north of Goma.

• On Friday last week, WFP (in a joint mission with UNICEF) moved BP5 high-energy biscuits to a medical centre in Kibati, 15 kilometres north of Goma. These are vital supplies for young children immediately threatened by malnutrition.

• Kibati has been the focus of displacement over the past week and many thousands of people are now living there without shelter (it has been raining heavily), clean water and other basic necessities. A rapid assessment has been completed and food and non-food deliveries are to begin as soon as possible.

Temporary shelter

• In its capacity as Logistics Cluster lead, WFP has loaned five Rubhalls (usually temporary warehousing) to UNHCR to be used as temporary shelter in Kibati.

• WFP has sufficient food supplies in Goma for its initial response to the new displacement. A contingency stock is also available in Bukavu, and lake movement has resumed following a brief suspension (boat/barge is the only possible mode of delivery from Bukavu to Goma, and congestion at the port is real possibility, given the city’s other needs).

• In an effort to prepare for any outflux of refugees from North Kivu to Uganda, as has happened in the past, WFP Uganda is pre-positioning 500 metric tons of food in the likely area of influx – enough to feed 30,000 people for a month, or 60,000 for two weeks. WFP’s office in the area is also being reinforced with an additional staff member and sufficient warehouse space is being secured.

High Energy Biscuits

• Also, WFP Rwanda has pre-positioned enough food for 2,000 people at the Nkamira transit centre in Gisenyi, just across the border from Goma. Included in the food are BP5 high-energy biscuits for 1,000 people. UNICEF, UNHCR and UNFPA have also pre-positioned non-food items.

• In both Masisi and Rutshuru, WFP was able to deliver 14-day food rations to newly displaced people through most of October, before the clashes intensified to the point where access became impossible. Many of the displaced have been able to carry some of these rations with them as they fled.

• WFP has recently been delivering 14-day rations because they are easier for people to carry with them in the event that they are subsequently forced to move again – a family ration for 14 days weighs 41.5 kg as opposed to 83 kg. As high food prices bite across eastern DRC, these smaller rations also mean the recipients are less of a target for theft and violence.

New demands

• WFP is facing new demands on its food supplies at a time when there is a major break in supply – only 4,000 metric tons of the estimated 10,000 tons required for this month in the Kivus is available for distribution.

• The total shortfall for WFP’s operations in DRC until April 2009 is more than 27,000 metric tons, valued at US$44 million. Shortfalls do not reflect any additional caseloads since fighting resumed in late August 2008.