Maize meal for distribution at Kibati camp, DRC
Copyright: WFP/Jim Farrell
The United Nations Secretary General, on a visit to a WFP-assisted camp for displaced people in eastern Congo, was encouraged by the news that – thanks to improved security in the region -- many families are returning to their homes.
KIBATI (Eastern Congo) -- As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon watched the latest WFP food distribution at Kibati camp on Sunday, one thing was immediately clear. There were fewer people in the camp. There will be even fewer next week if the security situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo continues to improve. WFP Eases Congolese Family's Return Home
“That’s good news,” Ban Ki-moon told journalists who met him as he finished speaking to a group of internally displaced people (IDPs) from the camp.
Returnees still need WFP
At its peak North Kivu province had 800,000 IDPs. But many who fled fighting north and northwest of the city of Goma are going home and will no longer need the WFP food distributed at this camp. But they will need continued food support as they wait for their first crops to come in. Plans are being made for just that challenge.
As a young boy in his native Korea the secretary general witnessed a similar situation. “When I was very young – seven or eight years old – we also suffered much because of the Korean War,” he said. “There were also millions of refugees. We overcame it with the assistance of the UN and the international communities. “Please – have hope, not despair.”
Thousands have left camp
The Kibati IDP camp, nestling near the base of a steaming volcano, is a sea of thatched huts perched on blackened lava. A month ago the camp’s official population was 13,800. Today it is many thousands less. Kibati’s president says 970 families left the camp in the last week alone.
WFP has poured tens of thousands of tons of food staples Goma-area camps over the years – maize meal, vegetable oil, pulses and salt. Regardless of how much was delivered to the camp in the way of food, plastic sheeting, mattresses and kitchen utensils it could never be enough. It’s best that people go home, Ban Ki-Moon said.
“We will try to mobilize all humanitarian facilities to succeed. I am here to bring you hope,” he told the IDPs. “I know your young children should have a brighter future.”