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WFP launches emergency food aid to Ebola victims in Democratic Republic of Congo

WFP launches emergency food aid to Ebola victims in Democratic Republic of Congo
GOMA – In partnership with the international relief agency, Caritas, WFP has started distributing food to patients and other people directly affected by the outbreak of Ebola virus in the North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Before the declaration of an Ebola outbreak in North Kivu on 1 August, WFP was already assisting hundreds thousands of people displaced by armed conflict in the province. In Beni territory, the epicentre of the Ebola outbreak, 12,000 displaced people received monthly WFP food rations since July. In light of Ebola and the additional humanitarian needs, WFP is expanding its operations to assist also those affected by the epidemic.

WFP is providing food to inpatients and caregivers in hospitals located in the towns of Mangina and Beni.  In order to reach persons having been in contact with affected people and their families, and to limit population movements which could spread the virus further, food is also being delivered to villages in the epidemic-stricken areas.  Some 4,000 people are receiving a one-month supply of cereals, beans, oil, and salt. To reinforce the response to critically ill patients, WFP is airlifting high energy biscuits into Goma from Dubai. These are often used in emergencies as they are light, easy to transport and do not need cooking facilities.

Since the tenth Ebola outbreak in DRC in 40 years was declared on 1 August in North Kivu, WFP has played an active role in enabling the medical response led by the Ministry of Health and World Health Organization (WHO), in particular, deploying its expertise in logistics. This was the approach taken in the outbreak that was recently stemmed in Equateur province in the north-west of the country in May. Three mobile warehouses were deployed to Beni; seven WFP trucks carry medicine, food, cars, motorbikes, thermometers, refrigerators, tents, solar kits and mattresses to treatment centres; WFP aviation specialists are helping to manage the air traffic in and out of Beni.

The WFP-run United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) operates daily flights between Goma and Beni, ferrying humanitarian workers and cargo, including medical and protection equipment as well as telecommunication units.

“This tenth Ebola outbreak is unfolding in an area of active armed conflict and displacement. It poses a risk of a regional health emergency involving three countries -- DRC, Rwanda and Uganda, said, WFP’s DRC Country Director, Claude Jibidar. “With its food assistance, logistics and air support already firmly in place, WFP is committed to do even more, to save lives and to prevent the epidemic from spreading.”   

A total of 111 cases of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) have been recorded since the beginning of the epidemic (83 confirmed cases and 28 probable cases. More than 4,000 people have been vaccinated so far.

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The United Nations World Food Programme - saving lives in emergencies and changing lives for millions through sustainable development. WFP works in more than 80 countries around the world, feeding people caught in conflict and disasters, and laying the foundations for a better future.

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For more information please contact (email address:
Jacques David, WFP/Goma, Mob. +243 81 700 6842
Claude Kalinga, WFP/Kinshasa, Mob. +243 81 700 6714
Jane Howard, WFP/Rome, Mob. +39 346 7600521
Frances Mwanza, WFP/London, Tel.  +44 20 3857 7411, Mob. +44 7968008474
Challiss McDonough, WFP/Washington, Tel. +1-202-653-1149, Mob. +1-202-774-4026
Steve Taravella, WFP/New York, Tel. +1-646-556-6909, Mob.  +1-202-770-5993