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DRC May Face Emergency Food Shortfall

In the eastern DRC, the UN World Food Program is one of the agencies continuing humanitarian operations for hundreds of thousands of people who’ve been displaced. However, there’s concern about possible food shortages in the coming months.

Jim Farrell is a spokesman for the WFP. From Goma, he gave VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua an update on food distribution.

“Distribution operations here are going according to plan at this point. They foresee fulfilling most of their needs, most of their requirements. But over a six month period in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, they’re look at a shortfall of about 17,000 tons (of food) per month. Right now, total needs…are about 104,000, And right now in the pipeline we have about 82,000 metric tons,” he says.

Farrell says that it appears the shortfall is due to a lack of funding for WFP operations. “The funding needs here are really vast. And as much as they’re getting, it’s not really quite matching up,” he says.

The WFP and other agencies had airlifted emergency food supplies to the far northeastern town of Dungu, which had been recently attacked by LRA rebels from Uganda. ‘That initial airlift was completed about a week ago. That is only intended to feed the people in the town of Dungu and immediately around the perimeter of Dungu, going out about 10 kilometers. What is really going to increase that need will occur in the coming month or so when they want to extend the food distribution area further north and east towards the borders of Sudan and Uganda. That is going to be a little bit of a logistical problem because of getting adequate airlift. So, right now, plans are in the works, but no decisions have been made about a series of large land convoys, plus airlifts into the area,” he says.

MONUC, the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC, is helping to provide security to the Dungu operations, but it’s limited to a 10 kilometer radius around the town.

Another problem facing food distribution in the Dungu area is the ongoing multi-country military operation being waged against the LRA rebels. “So at this point it’s pretty hot up in that area between Dungu and the borders of Sudan and Uganda,” he says.