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UN forced to cut aid to those starving in DRC

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The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said today that low funding means thousands will go without food in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The UN food agency says it urgently needs US $ 75 million to provide relief through May 2014.

Years of conflict have devastated food security and displaced millions in the DRC. The UN Secretary General's Representative Martin Kobler said following the defeat of the M23 rebels by the Congolese government, "there was now a need to win the peace." Disarmament plans are underway. But food is needed to ultimately write the peace.

In North Kivu province alone 6 out of every 10 families suffers from hunger. Malnutrition rates for infants are above emergency levels.

WFP has for months been reducing rations because of the funding deficit. Now, total stoppage of food aid is next. Nutrition for infants and school meals are among the programs at risk. Food-for-Work projects, which help people regain their livelihoods, will cease.

In ‘Province Orientale', fighting between the Congolese armed forces and rebels has caused even more displacement. WFP had to divert food stocks to this emergency which meant children at schools lost a daily meal, for many the only one of the day.

Martin Ohlsen, WFP Representative in DRC, says “We are very worried about the fate of thousands of people who depend on WFP food assistance. At a time when the Congolese Government and the international community are intensifying their efforts to stabilize the eastern DRC, a suspension, even a reduction, of humanitarian assistance could seriously compromise our long-standing investment in improving food security, restoring livelihoods and building resilience.”

WFP relies entirely on voluntary funding. The war in Syria and the massive refugee crisis in the Middle East has put a huge strain on WFP. The immense suffering across the globe in war and disaster zones will play a major role in the debate in Congress over the Food for Peace plan. Funding for Food for Peace is decided in the Farm Bill legislation. WFP's largest single donor is Food for Peace, an integral part of U.S. foreign policy since after World War II.

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