DRC: Operational Update - 18 November 2008

Goma, 18 November 2008 - WFP is stepping up food distributions in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo with plans to reach nearly 100,000 displaced people around the city of Goma and in territory further north, which is controlled by rebel leader Laurent Nkunda.

> WFP, on Tuesday, started distributions of a 20-day ration to over 56,000 people in the three camps of Mugunga 1, Mugunga 2 and Bulengo, which are stituated around Goma. Distributions in another three camps in the area will follow afterwards.

> These latest food distributions are in addition to rations that were delivered to all 6 camps around Goma, earlier this month.

> Distributions will get underway, on Tuesday, to 25,000 displaced in Kitchanga and 11,000 in Kilolirwe. Both of these camps are situated in the Masisi region, north-west of Goma, which is under the control of Laurent Nkunda.

Red Cross partners with WFP

> The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is due to start distributions of WFP food in Sake and Minova, on Friday, to some 50,000 displaced people.

> Distributions to 93,000 displaced people and host families in Rutshuru and Kiwanja are due to finish on Wednesday.

> A further 800 metric tons of food is being transported at regular intervals to nutrition centres across the region where people have been displaced by conflict.

> The security situation is still fluid and the continuation of all food distributions depends on the provision of escorts by the UN peacekeeping force, MONUC.

New clashes

> WFP is extremely concerned for the many thousands of people it has been unable to reach due to fighting. Reports of new clashes around Rwindi and Kanyabayonga - over 100 km north of Goma - are extremely worrying, given the difficulty of accessing the area.

> Even in places that WFP is able to access, the heavy downpours of the rainy season and the rudimentary road infrastructure are making it extremely challenging for humanitarian convoys to reach their destination.

> WFP is increasing storage capacity in Goma, putting up five temporary warehouses at two current warehouse sites.

Logistics hub

> WFP has sent two staff to Beni in the Grand Nord of North Kivu to set up a logistics hub which will help to supply food to displaced people south of the town. New staff are being hired and local customs clearance issues sorted. Warehouse space in Beni has already been secured. Food will start to move from Kampala to Beni within the next three days. WFP will be working with the Norwegian Refugee Council to reach some 91,500 people in the Beni and Lubero districts.

> WFP is today receiving the eighth rotation from Kinshasa of a Belgian government Hercules C130 aircraft at Goma airport. The cargo includes five tons of sugar for WFP’s operations, as well as medical equipment.

> Since the beginning of November, WFP Goma has received 3,157 tons of a total 5,783 tons already dispatched through various corridors, by truck and barge. This is equivalent to over 100 large truck loads already received in November alone.