Over three million people are at risk of starvation in Kasai province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and aid is needed to avert a humanitarian crisis, United Nations’ World Food Programme chief David Beasley told the BBC on Sunday. Hundreds of thousands of children could die in coming months if aid is not delivered, he said.
The World Food Programme has only 1% of the funds it needs to help people in Kasai, the official said. It has appealed for $17.2 million to distribute food aid in Kasai from September to December 2017, according to Al Jazeera.
“We are talking about several hundred thousand children there that will die in the next few months, if we don’t get first funds and then second, food, and then third, access in the right locations,” Beasley said.
With the monsson about to come, aid would need to be delivered by air in the absence of accessible roads, which would raise costs further, 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...We need help, and we need it right now,” he said.
Kasai is one of the provinces in the African country that have seen violence since August 2016, when a local leader died during clashes with security forces. Several militia factions emerged after his death, and they clash with authorities regularly. The fighting has spread to five provinces, and more than 3,000 people have been killed, the BBC reported.
The conflict has forced 1.5 million people from their homes, most of them children.