WFP reports calm in Zongo despite CAR instability

Despite recent instability in Bangui, capital of the neighbouring Central African Republic (CAR), the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said on Friday that the situation in Zongo, across the Bangui river in the northwestern Equateur province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), remained "calm", with no major new influx of refugees reported.

To help 24,000 CAR refugees in Zongo for nine months, WFP bought 260 mt of food locally and organised additional food shipments by barge. Food distribution is expected to start at the end of November, when the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and local authorities will complete the relocation of the refugees in Mole, 30 km from Zongo. Given the difficulty of accessing the area by road, GTZ, the international development arm of the German government, has started road rehabilitation works from Zongo to Mole. Meanwhile, WFP provided 381 mt of food to 29,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) from areas along the frontline as well as 1,000 vulnerable in the Mbandaka area of Equateur province. WFP is also supporting the newly implemented therapeutic feeding centre of MSF-Belgium in Mbandaka.

In North Kivu province, WFP distributed 866 mt of food to 57,500 vulnerable people, mostly returnees and IDPs who received seeds protection packages, in October. Food distributions were carried out in collaboration with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and international relief NGO World Vision.

Also in North Kivu, WFP has launched several pilot food-for-work projects of road rehabilitation and seed reproduction. The 243 km of roads due to be repaired will ease access to farms and selling of agricultural products, while the output of the seed reproduction project will be distributed to returnees' families and local populations.

During October, WFP distributed 151 mt of food to over 10,000 Angolan refugees in Bandundu province. In addition, 65 mt of WFP food has been provided to 4,250 beneficiaries under a general distribution programme in Kulindji since 1 Nov. Nutritional surveys recently conducted by Oxfam in refugee camps and immediate vicinities in Bandundu province showed a high level of vulnerability among local communities. While most refugees are becoming less vulnerable due to the provision of food aid and various coping mechanisms, some residents in neighbouring villages remain food insecure. WFP, UNHCR, and a number of NGOs agreed to launch joint activities involving refugees and local communities, with rehabilitation of local schools has been given priority.