The UN World Food Program (WFP) has delivered emergency supplies for more than 18,000 displaced people in the strife-torn eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) who are victims of violence at the hands of the notorious Ugandan rebel group known as the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).
The aid, delivered both by air and land, was distributed together with the non-governmental organization (NGO) Caritas in Orientale Province in and around the town of Dungu, which is situated near the DRC's borders with Sudan and Uganda, WFP said inan update on Wednesday.
WFP and its partners seek to reach some 800,000 people in the eastern Congo. However, it said the need for humanitarian assistance could jump significantly in the coming week, because the LRA has attacked several communities, killing civilians, burning homes and abducting civilians.
UN Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes said the rebel group is "attacking ordinary villages," protecting civilians has become "extremely difficult," and the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC, known as MONUC, is already "extremely overstretched" in the east of the country.
MONUC said it cannot estimate the number of people killed due to the remoteness and lack of communications in the region, but local and humanitarian officials said nearly 200 people had been killed during the Christmas period alone.
WFP said on Wednesday that while there is enough food to cover immediate needs in eastern DRC, a shortfall of 22,000 metric tons could be foreseen over the next six months.
Over half a million people have been uprooted in North Kivu Province since the clashes began escalating in the second half of 2008. In both North and South Kivu Provinces, skirmishes are continuing among armed groups, and insecurity and poor road conditions are still thwarting the delivery of aid.