WFP Provides Emergency Rations to Congo Refugees After Violence

The World Food Programme provided emergency food rations to about 81,000 displaced people in and near the city of Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, after fighting in the region prompted residents to flee.

An estimated 140,000 civilians in Goma, the capital of the DR Congo’s North Kivu province, may need food aid, the United Nations’ Rome-based WFP wrote in a report on its website yesterday. The agency fed about 470,000 displaced people in the province until last week when it suspended operations as unrest spread to Goma, the agency said.

Rebel group M23 captured Goma on Nov. 20 after their rebellion started in April amid claims the government had failed to respect a 2009 peace agreement that called for a number of steps to bring stability and economic development to the North and South Kivu provinces.

“The spiral of violence in North Kivu has cut many people off from their regular food supplies and they need emergency assistance to survive,” Martin Ohlsen, the WFP’s country director for DR Congo, was cited as saying in the statement.

Most of the families that received food aid and fled in recent days were from refugee camps north and west of the city, WFP said. They were given rations consisting of corn meal, pulses, salt and cooking oil, contributed by Canada, Japan and the U.S.

A “precarious security situation” may make it difficult to reach people needing aid beyond Goma, according to the WFP. The agency faced a funding shortfall of $23 million for the next six months of emergency operations in the eastern DR Congo, and recent unrest will increase humanitarian needs, the WFP wrote.

About 2.4 million people are displaced in eastern DR Congo, the agency said, citing an October report of the UN Office for the coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

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