Swiss Government funds WFP airlift in war-torn Congo
This is WFP's second airlift to the beleaguered region this year; the first operation ran from June to July 2001.
"This donation comes at a crucial time," said Jose Pita-Gros, WFP Deputy Country Director, Kinshasa, DRC. "On behalf of the hungry people of the DRC, we express our deepest appreciation," said Pita-Gros. "It will give us the chance to reach tens of thousands of people who rely on WFP food aid for their survival."
The lifesaving airlift will enable the agency to deliver a total of 500 metric tonnes of urgently needed maize, beans, vegetable oil, CSB, salt and sugar providing the inhabitants of Nyunzu, Manono, Kabalo, Kongolo, Kiambi and Mulongo with enough food to last until December.
WFP has delivered almost 300 tonnes of the food needed since the airlift began earlier this month. The remaining food will be delivered in the coming weeks.
Despite this, WFP is particularly concerned about the population in the towns of Kiambi and Mulongo as their accessibility remains difficult even by air.
In Kiambi, malnutrition rates are among the most dramatic in the DRC at 32 per cent, and 11 children out of 10,000 under the age of five are dying each day. So far, only a limted amount of food has been delivered by air as the airstrip, overgrown with trees and bushes, makes it impossible for the WFP Buffalo aircraft to land.
As an emergency measure, a smaller plane has been used making shuttles to and from Kalemie, but it is only able to carry one tonne of food per flight.
Similarily, Mulongo's rundown airstrip - unused for 20 years - has remained beyond the reach of the airlifts.
To reach these isolated populations and overcome the logistical obstacles, WFP will airlift food aid to Manono, from where the Agency's NGO partner Nuova Frontiera will use small trucks to negotiate the tough and long abandoned roads that lead to Kiambi and Mulongo.
When DRC's war started in 1998, hundreds of thousands of people fled their homes to seek refuge in the bush. Now, the arrival of UN peace forces (MONUC), in line with the Lusaka Peace agreement, has encouraged thousands to leave their rural hiding places and seek aid in the urban centres.
To date, WFP has received forty per cent of its US$112 million appeal to feed 1.4 million people in the DRC. Last year the agency fed some 930,000 people in the country and now operates out of ten offices and five logistics bases.
WFP is the United Nations' front-line agency in the fight against global hunger. In 2000, WFP fed more than 83 million people in 83 countries including most of the world's refugees and internally displaced people.
WFP Global School Feeding Campaign -- As the largest provider of nutritious meals to poor school children, WFP has launched a global campaign aimed at ensuring the world's 300 million undernourished children are educated.
For more information, please contact:
Brenda Barton, Regional Information Officer,
Tel.+2542 622594 Mobile: + 254 733 528912
Jose Pita-Gros, Deputy Country Director,
Tel: + 243 88 07403
David Schaad, Head of Logistics,
Tel: + 243 88 01407