Congo Watch: DRC: UN decries insecurity, malnutrition in Kasai Oriental

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

DRC: UN decries insecurity, malnutrition in Kasai Oriental

NAIROBI, 11 May 2005 (IRIN) - Ongoing insecurity is the cause of deteriorating levels of nutrition among people in the south-central province of Kasai Oriental in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the UN Mission there known as MONUC, reported on Monday.

"The worst famine-hit areas in the Sankuru District [in Kasai Oriental Province] include Kole, Tchumbe and Lubefu, located within the 500-km range from [the provincial capital] Mbuji-Mayi," Patrice Bogna, the information focal point for MONUC's Humanitarian Affairs Section, said in a statement detailing the mission's weekly humanitarian highlights.

The UN Word Food Programme (WFP) has not confirmed the areas as "famine-hit", but has said that several of its partners have reported high malnutrition rates in Sankuru.

WFP Information Officer Aline Samu told IRIN on Tuesday that the agency had not been able to start food distribution because of "logistics access" and "increased needs in eastern DRC". However, she said WFP was establishing a field office in Mbuji-Mayi.

"This will ease the management of food consignments," she said.

She added that the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) had just launched several needs assessment missions to the area, in which WFP was participating.

Bogna said a new mission by OCHA and several humanitarian partners was planned for 16 May to 3 June to assess the needs of communities in key areas.

He said that during a recent inter-agency meeting in Mbuji-Mayi, the humanitarian community put the level of malnutrition affecting children from six to 59 months at 24 percent in Sankuru. Food insecurity, he said, continued to worsen with "pillaging, physical violence and other exactions perpetrated by Mayi-Mayi combatants".

He added: "Unconfirmed information also suggests that some 300 Pygmies have fled to neighbouring forests in Lomela, near Mbuji-Mayi, as a result of harassment by armed soldiers."

Therefore, Boga said, MONUC was sending military observers and humanitarian personnel to review the situation.

The so-called pygmies, known as the Batwa, are forest-dwelling hunters-gatherers indigenous to central Africa.


Anonymous Carine said...

This news has been a shock to me. Kasai has been relatively one of the less hit provinces during the past wars. I never thought famine would become a problem and it just occured to me that some of the country's food supplies come from Eastern Congo (which is not far from Sankuru). This war is disrupting a lot of things and I don't think Kinshasa is doing enough to stop this. I have the horrible feeling that they're waiting for this to happen in Kinshasa.

Thursday, May 12, 2005  
Blogger Ingrid said...

Dear Carine, thank you for stopping to comment. Sorry to hear you have a horrible feeling that they're waiting for this to happen. What are we to do? Take a look at Uganda Watch and what is happening in Northern Uganda, it's horrific. DRC and Uganda is much worse than Darfur. But I wonder how much of it is connected. You know we've learned through our blogs and commenting that there are people from Rwanda stirring horrors in DRC - the LRA from Uganda are stirring horrors in the Sudan .. Janjaweed from Sudan are stirring horrors over the border in Chad ... and so it goes on. Complete lawlessness. Anarchy. Was it always like that?

Yesterday I saw a report where troops from Sudan and Uganda are earmarked for Somalia. They can't even sort out their own countries, never mind go help Somalia. I wish there was a Mama Beijing in each African (and Arab) country :)

Thursday, May 12, 2005  

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