7.7 million people are close to starvation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is over 10% of the overall population. The United Food agencies have reported that this is a 30% increase from last year, which was 5.9 million.
Over 2 million of those 7.7 are children, and the UN food agencies are warning that they are at a severe risk of starvation, if they do not receive their food aid. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reported that 1 out of 10 children in rural areas suffer from acute hunger. Nearly 43% of DRC children suffering from malnutrition are under five years old. These issues severely negatively impact the growth and development of children, especially when they are still so young.
One of the reasons for the strain of resources is the increase of refugees fleeing to the DRC from surrounding countries. They have also had horrible infestations of fall armyworm. This pest ruins crops and makes it impossible to grow crops once an area is infested.
This starvation pandemic is evident across most of the providences but is most prominent in Kasai. Kasai is a part of the twenty-six providences within the DRC. Claude Jibidar, director of World Food Program's (a branch of the United Nations) operations in the DRC, said on Monday that the situation was especially dire in the diamond-rich central Kasai region where a revolt has been raging for the past year, with both government and protestors accused of causing multiple tragedies. With this ongoing violence plaguing their villages and fields, farmers have not been able to plant for the past two growing seasons.
Many farmers have been experiencing displacement. Over 1.4 million people have had to flee their homes in Kasai and the eastern providence of Tanganyika. Over 3.7 million people within the country have been displaced according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. They are usually women and children and they desperately need to receive food aid. "The situation is set to get worse if urgent support does not come in time," said Alexis Bonte, the DRC representation of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. After being forced to more or displaced, people do not often have the supplies to build a farm for themselves, which further worsens the famine issue.
There are a lot of inter-ethnic violence and protests against the president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Joseph Kabila. This causes even more strain on getting the proper resources to people in need. The President was meant to step down at the end of his term in December but has refused and keeps delaying the polls for the next election. Militants have killed many people during these protests, no matter how peaceful they are, adding tension between the people and the government.
Just last weekend, 79 people were killed in a fight between the Hema herders and the Lendu farmers in the northern Ituri province. There has been a strife between these groups since the 1970s. This ongoing conflict makes it difficult to get access to resources and impossible for farmers to plant and tend to their crops, which greatly add to the famine crisis.
Mark Lowcock, the United Nations humanitarian chief, had a meeting with potential donors. "We have a great responsibility in the DRC ... Now is the time to stay the course," Jens Laerke, United Nations spokesman, said during a briefing in Geneva. The UN is working to help bring aid to the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo because at the end of the day, as humans, it is our duty to help those in need.