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Millions face starvation in Democratic Republic of Congo

By John Odyek

Added 31st October 2017 02:13 PM

Violence flared in August last year after the death of a local leader during clashes with security forces and has forced 1.5 million people to flee.

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Violence flared in August last year after the death of a local leader during clashes with security forces and has forced 1.5 million people to flee.

HUNGER | DR CONGO

The head of the World Food Programme (WFP) has appealed for aid to avert a humanitarian crisis in the conflict hit Kasai Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

David Beasley said over three million people were now at risk of starvation and  warned that many children could die in the coming months if aid is not delivered.

Violence flared in August last year after the death of a local leader during clashes with security forces and has forced 1.5 million people out their homes to flee the area.

"Our teams are out in the field. We saw burned huts, burned homes and seriously malnourished children that had been stunted. Obviously many children have died already," Beasley said.

"We're talking about several hundred thousand children there that will die in the next few months, if we don't get first funds and then second food, and then third access in the right locations," he added.

 

BBC reported that WFP currently only has 1% of the funding it needs to help people in Kasai and warned that the coming rainy season would soon make already poor roads impassable.

Delivering aid by air will see costs escalate.

"If we wait another few more weeks before we receive funds to pre-position food, I can't imagine how horrible the situation is going to be," he said.

"We need help, and we need it right now," he added.

The conflict began when the government refused to recognise a traditional chief who went by the title Kamuina Nsapu.

He set up a militia, but was killed in clashes. Since his death, a number of Kamuina Nsapu militia factions have emerged, all fighting for different causes, but with authorities their common target.

PIC: DR Congo leader Joseph Kabila

More and more people have joined the fighting, which has spread to five provinces. Both security forces and the militias have been accused of gross human rights violations.

More than 3,000 people have been killed and the UN has discovered dozens of mass graves in the area.

Survivors have described seeing their family members killed with machetes or drowned and say the continuing ethnic conflict means they cannot go home.

In March, militias ambushed and killed 40 police officers in Kasai, cutting off all of their heads.

The same month, two UN workers, a Swede and an American were abducted and killed in the same region, having gone to investigate the abuses.

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