David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Program (WFP), warned that several hundred thousand children will die in the next few months in the province of Kasai “if we don’t get first funds, and then second food, and then third access in the right locations.”
“We need help, and we need it right now,” he said. “If we wait another few more weeks before we receive funds to pre-position food, I can’t imagine how horrible the situation is going to be.”
According to him, the WFP had only one percent of the funding it needed to help people in the conflict-ridden province.
“Our teams are out in the field, we saw burned huts, burned homes, seriously malnourished children that had been stunted, obviously many children have died already,” he said.
Violence began in Kasai last year when a traditional chief, known by his title Kamuina Nsapu, openly challenged the authority of President Joseph Kabila’s government.
He set up a militant group but was killed in a police operation in August 2016. His death, however, was not the end of clashes as more and more people joined the fighting, which has now spread to five provinces.
More than 3,000 people have so far been killed.
Back in March, militants killed at least 40 police officers in an ambush in Kasai.
They also killed two UN workers, a Swede and an American, after abducting them in the same region in March.
The UN, which has discovered dozens of mass graves in the area, accuses both security forces and the militants of gross human rights violations.