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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

DRC: WFP suspends food aid to northern province

KINSHASA, 19 January 2004 (IRIN) - The UN World Food Programme (WFP) suspended food aid on Friday to vulnerable people in Gbadolite and Businga, in the northern province of Equateur, Democratic Republic of the Congo, an official told IRIN.

WFP's deputy representative, Jose Pita-Gros, said that the measure was taken because local residents had stolen 320 mt of food meant for the vulnerable. They had been stored in a local NGO's warehouse for distribution.

"We have told the Congolese authorities that we can no longer send more aid to the north while our products cannot be secured," he said.

Pita-Gros said the entire food consisted of maize flour, beans, vegetable oil, sugar and salt had been stolen. He said some residents had sold the items to traders for resale in the larger towns.

WFP spokesman Aline Samu said that 2,400 vulnerable people were targeted in Businga for humanitarian aid, among them 2,000 pygmy head of households who had come out of the forest in a pitiful state.

"WFP has been helping so that they could resume their traditional survival mechanisms," Samu said.

In addition to these pygmy families, she said, WFP was supplying food for 200 malnourished children and an equal number of other vulnerable people in pygmy communities. Pregnant women, street children and orphans were also to benefit.

In November 2003, 12,600 displaced people benefited from this kind of aid.

Pita-Gros said vulnerable people in Businga and Gbadolite could suffer from the complete disruption of supplies. He said it could take another two months to replenish the stock by bringing supplies along the River Congo, 1,200 km from the WFP base in the nation’s capital, Kinshasa. WFP is providing food aid for 1.5 million people across the country.

 

Themes: (IRIN) Food Security

[ENDS]

 

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