The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said today it is ramping up efforts to feed tens of thousand of Congolese who fled a recent outbreak of tribal violence in north-western Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
More than 38,000 people escaped into neighbouring Republic of Congo, crossing the river separating the two countries after deadly clashes erupted on 30 October between two tribes in DRC`s Equateur province.
The fighting, thought to be over disputes based on farming and fishing rights in the village of Dongo, left dozens dead and an estimated 14,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) inside DRC who are too afraid to return to their villages. In some locations, bodies are still visible lying in the streets or in the river, WFP said in a news release.
UN assessment missions on both sides of the Oubangi River have underscored the need for food assistance for people, mainly women and children, who have been on the run for several weeks now.
WFP is slated to start food distributions in the second week of December using stockpiled supplies already in the DRC after completing its ongoing assessment of the exact needs in areas in and around Dongo.
A total of 23 trucks carrying 455 tons of WFP food have also arrived in Betou in northern Republic of Congo from the Central African Republic (CAR), as well as 8,000 litres of fuel to assist the humanitarian relief effort.
Earlier this week, WFP also chartered a cargo plane in Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of Congo, to deliver medical and other supplies for the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN Children`s Fund (UNICEF).
In coordination with Government authorities and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), WFP is set to start distributions in Betou, Dongou, Enyelle and Impfondo districts of Likouala province in the Republic of Congo next week. An emergency distribution of 10 tons of rice and 1.5 tons of high energy biscuits already took place in Eboko (Betou district) to 187 vulnerable families on Sunday.