New York, US - The UN World Food Programme (WFP) says a major funding gap is forcing the agency to scale back geographical coverage of its work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and to instead focus on 'acutely-insecure, conflict-affected areas' in the country.
WFP spokesperson, Ms. Elisabeth Byrs, said on Saturday that the agency’s work in the DRC was being hindered by 'severe funding constraints' and as a result it would begin to cut rations to internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the country’s eastern North Kivu province and also scale down some other operations.
She said WFP had announced last year that it was aiming to reach 4.2 million food-insecure people across the DRC between July 2013 and December 2015, but the shortage of funds had already caused reductions in rations and a scaling back of some operations during recent months.
She noted that in December 2013, WFP assisted 1.5 million food-insecure people in the DRC, including IDPs, refugees, children and women.
'The agency estimates that some 11 per cent of the rural population in the DRC is food-insecure. As such, WFP needs 15,000 tons of food for the next six months, but will be unable to provide that food without the actual funding,' Ms. Byrs said.
She said that WFP urgently required US$48.5 million for its operations to assist hundreds of thousands of conflict-affected and food-insecure people through August, adding that so far, the agency had only received US$8 million, which was about 4 per cent of what it required.
She stressed that the situation in Katanga province was deteriorating and underlined that WFP was 'extremely preoccupied' by the arrival of refugees from strife-torn Central African Republic (CAR).
The WFP spokesperson added that the agency was also very concerned about chronic malnutrition, which affected more than 43 per cent of the children in the DRC.