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WFP resumes food airlifts

WFP early this week resumed an emergency airlift of food supplies to feed some 50,000 displaced Congolese whose nutritional status had reached alarming levels as a result of shortages in the capital Brazzaville. The first of 30 cargo flights from Pointe Noire arrived in the city on Monday carrying 22 mt of relief food, WFP said in a statement. A total of 600 mt, some of which will be barged across to Kinshasa for war victims there who have been short of food since October, will be distributed this week through the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) assisted by WFP.

According to WFP, most of the refugees who fled to northern areas of the city last month to escape fierce fighting are huddled in 21 ad-hoc sites, living in cramped, unsanitary conditions in churches, schools and abandoned buildings. Many have had virtually nothing to eat for the past three weeks. “Malnutrition is reportedly setting in on the weakest, with children and pregnant mothers rapidly losing body weight. Many are reduced to lying on the ground throughout the day to conserve their limited energy,” Rigobert Oura, WFP’s Emergency Officer for Brazzaville said in the statement. Insecurity has cut-off the city from external sources of food except for the agency’s aid flights which can only bring in limited supplies.

Humanitarian sources told IRIN that some of the displaced had crossed the border into DRC. An estimated 5,000, of which only 1,700 are believed to be Congolese, had been sighted by UNHCR at Mbanza-Ngungu. The remaining 3,300 are from DRC and west African states.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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