Kinshasa - The crisis in Congo's Kasai region is already one of the most pressing humanitarian emergencies worldwide, but now, according to aid workers, there is also threat of hunger crisis. Up to 250,000 children will starve in the coming months if help does not come to them quickly, as the head of the World Food Program (), David Beasley, explained after visit to the region. A total of around 3.2 million people there depend on food aid.
A bloody conflict escalated in the central Kasai region in August 2016 after security forces killed the leader of rebel group. The fighting that followed temporarily drove up to 1.4 million people to flight. About half of the displaced have now returned, but they find devastated villages and destroyed houses, said the spokesman for the Congo, Andreas Kirchhof. “Many have missed several harvests. Now there is risk of hunger, ”he said.
The homecoming of internally displaced persons is positive sign of new stability However, not enough help for the returnees, said Kirchhof. "The region is at crossroads: because the humanitarian situation is so difficult, new conflicts could break out now," he warned. Since the end of October, the Congo has been classified by the UN as one of the most serious humanitarian crises in the world, alongside Iraq, Syria and Yemen, mainly because of the emergency in the Kasai region.
The WFP wants 500,000 by the end of the year Providing people with relief supplies, and "many more" early next year. The organization is sending more staff and 80 four-wheel drive trucks to distribute relief supplies in the region, according to press release on Tuesday. So far, however, only one percent of the 135 million US dollars (125 million euros) necessary for the aid by mid-2018 has been received.
However, the aid organization warns that many children are severely traumatized as result of the conflict. Many had experienced heavy fighting or had to watch the killing of close relatives, said an emergency aid expert from the organization, Kathryn Taetzsch, after mission in the region. "The children here hardly get any support " , said Taetzsch. World Vision has rapidly expanded its own aid mission in the Kasai region since June.
The area of the Kasai region roughly corresponds to that of Germany. Until 2016, there had been no conflict there for long time, unlike in the east of the Congo, which has not settled for over 20 years. There, militias fight for supremacy and the country's rich natural resources. WFP boss Beasley appealed to donors not to block themselves from the need in other parts of the country because of the lack of progress in one part of the country: "We must not blame innocent women and children for the failures of others."