DR Congo

WFP starts food distribution to thousands in North West DRC

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Kinshasa, 31 December 2009 - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is starting food distribution today to thousands of displaced people in Equateur province, in the north west of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Food convoys carrying 50 metric tons of food assistance escorted by MONUC (UN mission in DRC) departed the city of Gemena in Equateur yesterday to dispatch food to two distribution sites.

More than 6,000 displaced people in Bozene and Boyazala will receive food rations for a month composed of maize, beans, vegetable oil and salt. Distributions will be carried out by the Congolese NGO AVEP.

"Because of ongoing clashes in the area where these people live, it has been difficult to get food assistance to those who need it most," said Abdou Dieng, WFP Country Director in DRC, adding that WFP food distributions will be widened if security conditions improve.

The Congolese government says that 270 people were killed when fighting first erupted in a dispute over access to fishing ponds in the Dongo area in November. More than 130,000 people have been displaced, most of them fled by crossing the Oubangui river into the neighbouring Republic of Congo where they started receiving WFP food assistance at the end of November. Within DRC it was estimated by the UN that some 40,000 people had been displaced internally since the beginning of November but the figure might now be higher.

In DRC, the town of Dongo is reported to be deserted from its inhabitants whereas localities like Bozene start seeing some return movements, however a large number of people still sleep in the forest for fear of new violence and harvest activities have been affected.

WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide.