DR Congo

WFP appeals for safe and unimpeded access in DR Congo

ABIDJAN -- The United Nations World Food Programme today appealed for safe and unimpeded access by humanitarian organisations to all people in need of food aid and other relief supplies in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
It is estimated that close to a million people have been displaced by the conflict and many are still trapped in the country's interior, cut off from humanitarian assistance. Vast areas of the DRC have been inaccessible to WFP and other aid agencies because of continued insecurity.

"We hope that the United Nations Security Council's session on DRC will be fruitfull and permit the establishment of safe corridors for the delivery not only of relief supplies but also of commercial food," said Kees Tuinenburg, WFP Country Director in Kinshasa. "Due to the war, food surplus areas within the country, that used to supply other parts of the DRC are now completely isolated."

Food has become scarce not only in rural areas, where farmers had to abandon their land due to the fighting, but also in DRC's urban centres. In the capital Kinshasa, the little food available is too expensive for many people to buy. Agencies estimate that 10 million Congolese are vulnerable to food shortages this year.

In June, WFP launched a US$30 million programme to provide food assistance to 350,000 internally displaced and vulnerable persons in the DRC. Although additional food aid pledges were recently received by WFP, this programme has only received 34 per cent of the food aid needed. This emergency appeal will be extended and even more food will be required.

"These funds will help us feed the most needy people, but if we don't receive new contributions, we'll run out of food completely in May," said Tuinenburg.

Meanwhile, WFP has managed last week to create a fourth corridor in south-eastern DRC to deliver food aid by barge to the town of Kalemie from Kigoma, Tanzania, across Lake Tanganyika. The establishment of this route will allow WFP to quickly feed the tens of thousands of people uprooted by the conflict in particular in Northeastern Katanga and South Kivu.

WFP currently has staff in six locations in the DRC. If the security situation improves, the agency will be able to expand its operations and help thousands of other victims who are currently cut off by the ongoing conflict.

The World Food Programme is the United Nations' front-line agency in the fight against global hunger. In 1999 WFP fed more than 86 million people in 82 countries - more than half were girls and women.

For more information, please contact:

Trevor Rowe
WFP Spokesperson, Rome
Tel. + 39 06 6513 2602

Kees Tuinenburg
WFP Country Director, Kinshasa
Tel. + 243 88 05 046 or 871 762 209 770 (satellite)

Wagdi Othman
WFP Information Officer, Abidjan
Tel. +225 20 21 42 42 or 05 96 20 68