December 4, 2013 (KINSHASHA) - The World Food Programme (WFP) has announced it has been forced to cut food assistance for displaced persons in the North Kivu region of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) due to a shortage of funds.
“In the last six months funding shortages have meant that WFP has already had to halve the rations distributed to displaced people in North Kivu province, at a time when the overall food security situation is deteriorating in that part of eastern DRC”, WFP said on a statement on its website on Tuesday.
The UN agency said the reduction in food rations was “due to serious resource constraints”.
Kivu is the most volatile region in eastern Congo, with a cocktail of militia groups that until recently included the defeated M23 rebels.
The agency says it needs $75 million to continue to meet the humanitarian needs of displaced people in the region.
“To continue its operations in DRC over the next six months, WFP, which is funded entirely by voluntary contributions, urgently needs $75 million to see it through May 2014”, the agency’s statement said.
According to WFP, 500,000 “food- insecure” people will be affected by the shortages.
“The provision of daily hot meals to thousands of schoolchildren is also in jeopardy, as is life-saving nutritional support to some 180,000 malnourished children, pregnant women and nursing mothers across the country”, the agency said.
“We are very worried about the fate of thousands of people who depend on WFP food assistance”, said Martin Ohlsen, WFP’s representative in DRC.
International and regional efforts have shifted towards ending the conflict in eastern DRC, with the defeat of the M23 – considered the strongest of the various militia groups – raising hopes for peace.
On Monday this week, DRC’s president, Joseph Kabila, was in Kampala for talks with his Ugandan counterpart, Yoweri Museveni. In a communique released following the meeting, the two leaders said they had agreed to conclude the Kampala peace talks.
In October, the DRC government and the M23 failed to sign an agreement in Kampala after disagreeing over an amnesty deal for rebels. The DRC government said it could not sign an agreement with a rebel force that did not exist as the M23 had already dissolved itself.