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DR Congo’s conflict-driven hunger crisis worsens as violence in east surges

Residents flee fighting between M23 rebels and Congolese forces north of Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, October 29, 2022   -  
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Moses Sawasawa/Copyright 2021 The AP. All rights reserved.

Democratic Republic Of Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo's conflict-driven hunger crisis is worsening as violence in the eastern province’s surges, forcing families to flee once again.

More and more people are arriving at overcrowded camps where there is a lack of food, sanitation and shelter.

Just since February, 230,000 people have been displaced to Goma by the M23 conflict bringing the total estimated displaced population to almost a million people around the city - almost double what it was four months ago.

Eastern Congo has been riddled by conflict for decades, linked to more than 120 armed groups fighting for land and power and in some cases, protecting their communities.

The government said the violence in the east has plagued the country with recurrent conflict and resulted in a surge of attacks that have spread terror among the communities.

In recent years, the M23 rebel group — the most dominant in the region with alleged links to neighboring Rwanda — has continued to attack villages, forcing many to flee to Goma, the region’s largest city.

M23 has laid siege to several communities with about half of North Kivu province under its control.

The violence in the province has worsened in recent weeks as security forces battle the rebels.

Residents have said the group’s fighters mostly launch attacks with bombs out of hills overlooking remote towns.

Families face extreme shortages as they have inadequate shelter, and limited access to water, food and protection from abuse.

In DRC, WFP’s emergency response in the east said it has tripled its beneficiary reach, from an average of 400,000 people in May 2023 to an average of 1.3 million people today.

Nearly one million people have been displaced due to conflict since the start of the year, leading to food shortages and increased commodity prices in Goma's markets.

Around a quarter of DRC’s population – 23.4 million people – are facing crisis levels of hunger or worse.

Many live in poor and cramped conditions with little or no access to food, health services, and education.

At the heart of a deepening hunger crisis lies a troubling situation for women and girls, particularly those living in IDP camps, where they face a constant threat from sexual violence.

Funding shortages mean WFP is forced to choose who gets food and who goes without, it said, especially in the east where humanitarian needs and conflict are surging.

WFP needs US$ 548.5 million to keep comprehensive operations in the DRC, it said.

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