DR Congo + 2 more

WFP News Update: Eastern Congo - Goma update 31 Oct 2008

Key Messages

- On Friday, WFP moved vitally-needed BP5 high-energy biscuits for malnourished children to an important medical centre for the displaced north of Goma.

- Following an assessment at the main site of displacement north of Goma, WFP hopes to commence general distributions over the weekend.

- WFP has sufficient stocks in Goma for its immediate response to the newly displaced, although the longer-term food supply picture is a major concern.

- Although movement within and outside Goma is still limited due to the fragile security situation, humanitarian agencies successfully delivered some relief supplies on Friday. WFP (in a joint mission with UNICEF and UNHCR) moved BP5 high-energy biscuits to a medical centre in Kibati, 15 kilometres north of Goma. These are vital supplies for young children immediately threatened by malnutrition.

- There has been further displacement of people around Kibati in recent days and many thousands are now living there without shelter (it has been raining heavily), clean water and other basic necessities. A rapid assessment is being completed on Friday so that food supplies can be delivered as quickly as possible.

- With the assessment complete and given the right security conditions, WFP hopes to begin general distributions to the displaced in Kibati over the weekend.

- WFP has sufficient food supplies in Goma for its initial response to the new displacement. A contingency stock is also available in Bukavu, although all traffic across Lake Kivu has been stopped temporarily.

- In its capacity as Logistics Cluster lead, WFP has loaned five Rubhalls (temporary warehousing) to UNHCR to be used as temporary shelter in Kibati.

- In an effort to prepare for any outflow of refugees from North Kivu to Uganda - as has happened in the past - WFP Uganda is pre-positioning 500 metric tons of food in the likely area of influx - enough to feed 30,000 people for a month, or 60,000 for two weeks. WFP's office in the area is also being reinforced with an additional staff member and sufficient warehouse space is being secured.

- WFP Rwanda has pre-positioned enough food for 2,000 people at the Nkamira transit centre in Gisenyi, just across the border from Goma. Included in the food are BP5 high-energy biscuits for 1,000 people. UNICEF, UNHCR and UNFPA have also pre-positioned non-food items.

- On Thursday, WFP staff and their dependents, as well as staff and dependents from other UN agencies and international NGOs, spent a second successive night in a secure compound in Goma.

- In both Masisi and Rutshuru, WFP was able to deliver 14-day food rations to newly displaced people through most of October, before the clashes intensified to the point where access became impossible. Many of the displaced have been able to carry some of these rations with them as they fled.

- WFP has recently been delivering 14-day rations because they are easier for people to carry, in the event that they are subsequently forced to move again - a family ration for 14 days weighs 41.5 kg as opposed to 83 kg. As high food prices bite across eastern DRC, these smaller rations also mean the recipients are less of a target for theft and violence.

- WFP is facing new demands on its food supplies at a time when there is a major break in supply - only 4,000 metric tons of the estimated 10,000 tons required for this month in the Kivus is available for distribution.

- The total projected shortfall for WFP's operations in DRC from November 2008 through April 2009 is more than 27,000 metric tons, valued at US$44 million. Shortfalls do not reflect any additional caseloads since fighting resumed in late August 2008.

WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency and the UN's frontline agency for hunger solutions. This year, WFP plans to feed 90 million people in 80 countries.

WFP now provides RSS feeds to help journalists keep up with the latest press releases, videos and photos as they are published on WFP.org. For more details see: http://www.wfp.org/english/?n=999.

WFP now has a dedicated ISDN line in Italy for quality two-way interviews with WFP officials.

For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org):

Marcus Prior, WFP/Nairobi, Tel. +254-2076222336, Cell. +254-733528912

Gregory Barrow, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39-06-65132330, Cell. +39-3481325018, (ISDN line available)

Caroline Hurford, WFP/London, Tel. +44-20-72409001, Cell. +44-7968-008474

Jennifer Parmelee, WFP/Washington, Tel. +1-202-6530010 ext. 1149, Cell. +1-202-4223383

Bettina Luescher, WFP/New York, Tel. +1-212-9635196, Cell. +1-646-8241112, luescher@un.org