Mil­lions of Con­golese chil­dren dy­ing of hunger

African Times - - International / Africa - JEAN KASSONGO

MORE than 2 mil­lion chil­dren are at risk of death from se­vere acute mal­nu­tri­tion if the con­flict-torn Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo (DRC) fails to se­cure fund­ing.

The World Food Pro­gramme (WFP) warned of the catas­tro­phe ahead of a United Na­tions (UN) en­voy vis­it­ing the Cen­tral African coun­try where sev­eral prov­inces have wit­nessed de­te­ri­o­ra­tion in hu­man­i­tar­ian con­di­tions in re­cent months.

Mark Low­cock, UN Un­der-Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral for Hu­man­i­tar­ian Af­fairs and Emer­gency Relief Co­or­di­na­tor, is on a fact-find­ing mis­sion un­til Tues­day (to­mor­row).

Of the mil­lions of chil­dren fac­ing famine, nearly 300 000 are in the Ka­sai re­gion, said Bet­tina Luescher, spokes­woman for the WFP.

Ka­sai is the epi­cen­tre of an­ar­chy by mili­tia groups in­volved in clashes with the na­tional army.

Ear­lier this year, the DRC’s hu­man­i­tar­ian com­mu­nity launched a record $ 1,68 bil­lion (R19,85 bil­lion) fund ap­peal to meet the needs of nearly 10,5 mil­lion peo­ple af­fected by ban­ditry also af­flict­ing the Ituri, Kivu and Tan­ganyika re­gions.

UN will hold the first ever donor con­fer­ence for the DRC in Switzer­land in April.

“We have a great re­spon­si­bil­ity for the sit­u­a­tion in the DRC.

“Now is the time to stay the course,” said Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN Of­fice for the Co­or­di­na­tion of Hu­man­i­tar­ian Af­fairs (OCHA).

He pointed out to date, nearly 4,5 mil­lion peo­ple have been dis­placed, mak­ing DRC the African coun­try most af­fected by in­ter­nal dis­place­ment.

Years of in­sta­bil­ity and con­flict have fu­eled one of the world’s most com­plex hu­man­i­tar­ian crises.

It is feared the in­se­cu­rity will not cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment con­ducive to free and cred­i­ble elec­tions to­wards the end of the year. – CAJ News

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