Tuesday, 18 November 2008
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has begun a large scale food distribution to tens of thousands of people eastern Congo, which was the first to the towns there since fighting began in late October.
The trucks loaded with 100 tons of food, encountered no problems on their journey on Friday morning from Goma, 75 kilometres south and 50,000 people have been registered to receive food, of whom 12,000 were due to receive rations on Friday.
The convoy also carried non-food items donated by the Belgian government, including blankets, plastic buckets, clothes, jerry cans and plastic sheeting.
Malnutrition rates among children under the age of five are above emergency levels in some parts of Rutshuru district, where the distribution took place. The entire population in the area has suffered because of the upsurge in fighting in recent weeks. Many people were unable to plant their fields for several successive seasons and prices of basic food items have risen sharply.
WFP is delivering a 15-day family ration consisting of maize meal, peas, cooking oil and salt. This is a half ration, which is half the weight of a full month's ration and therefore easier to carry in the event that people are forced to move again by fighting.
Insecurity remains the greatest obstacle to WFP's efforts to get food out to people. The frontline in the conflict between the Congolese army (FARDC) and Laurent Nkunda's rebels (CNDP) is only a few kilometres north of Goma on the main road to Rutshuru.
For more details of the World Food Programmes's work, please visit their site.