Donors begin to respond to WFP appeal for the east

The EC and United States have given the UN World Food Programme (WFP) a total of US $15 million in response to an appeal for aid for an estimated 500,000 people facing severe hunger in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a WFP official told IRIN on Friday.

The Nairobi-based WFP regional information officer, Laura Melo, said that the donations by the EC ($4.3 million) and the US ($9.5 million) have now given WFP a 41 percent resourcing level of the $38 million it requested in June.

The agency issued a second donor alert on 8 August, saying it had received only five percent of the required funding, and that its food reserves in the Congo were low.

Melo said the agency had since resumed food airlifts in Kalemie, eastern DRC, so as to reach the thousands of people who have been displaced by fighting.

In a statement issued from Brussels, the EC said its humanitarian aid package, to be channelled through its Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), would contribute to WFP's emergency operation launched in June in response to the deterioration of the situation in the east.

"Despite successful peace negotiations that resulted in a transition government in June, localised conflict has intensified in the eastern parts of the DRC, with serious humanitarian consequences, the EC said. "Fighting and looting have prompted mass population displacement. People that have fled their homes suffer high malnutrition and mortality rates."

In June, WFP appealed for funds to provide 46,000 mt of food aid for people affected by ethnic fighting in northeastern Congo, where hundreds of people have been killed and thousands displaced by fighting among ethnic militias in recent months.