DRC: Operational Update - 2 December 2008

Goma, 2 December 2008 - WFP is ramping up its humanitarian operation in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo in response to conflict between armed groups, government forces, and Laurent Nkunda’s rebel movement that has forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.

As part of its response, WFP is also extending its humanitarian operation to Orientale Province where civilians have been caught up in a separate conflict involving an armed group called the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

During November, WFP increased its delivery of food assistance to a total of 564,000 people across eastern DRC. Of this number, 383,000 were displaced in North Kivu alone. Insecurity and the difficulty of negotiating poor roads continued to hamper access to an estimated 70,000 displaced people in North Kivu.

· WFP is concerned about a humanitarian crisis unfolding in Orientale Province, in the far north-east of the DRC (around Dungu), where rebels from the (LRA) have been attacking civilians and forcing thousands to flee their villages.

· In response to this second crisis, WFP is preparing to assist an estimated 70,000 people who have been forced from their homes and live in fear of their children being abducted by the LRA.

· Areas around Dungu are extremely difficult to reach – either because of worsening security or because roads are impassible. To meet the needs of those affected by this conflict, WFP is opening a strategic air bridge – from Entebbe (in Uganda) to Dungu. The air bridge will be made available to other agencies. There is also a possibility of using air drops to provide much-needed food assistance.

· On Tuesday, 2 December, WFP airlifted two 6X6 Daf trucks in a giant MI-26 helicopter from Bunia to Dungu where they will be used to transport food to distribution sites. WFP has already positioned mobile storage units and extra vehicles as well as additional staff in Dungu.

· In North Kivu, WFP’s partner, ICRC, has completed food distributions to nearly 45,000 IDPs living along the Sake-Shasha axis – an area into which Laurent Nkunda’s rebels are reported to be advancing. MONUC, together with UNOPS, has undertaken to improve a particularly poor stretch of the road between Sake and Masisi.

· Further to the north, around Nyanzale, another WFP partner, Premiere Urgence, has distributed WFP food to more than 56,000 people. WFP-transported non-food items (including jerrycans, cooking pots and sleeping mats) have also been distributed to many of those receiving food assistance.