World Food Program Suspends Humanitarian Flights in Eastern DRC

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The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has suspended humanitarian flights across much of conflict-torn eastern Democratic Republic of Congo following an attack on their helicopter last week.

According to the report, unidentified militants fired on the United Nations helicopter from the trade hub of Goma in North Kivu province on Friday.

The 10 passengers and three crew members on board were unharmed, but the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) decided to temporarily suspend humanitarian flights in North Kivu and neighboring Ituri province.

WFP manages the UN Humanitarian Air Service, which provides passenger and cargo transport during crises.

“We are deeply concerned about the safety of air operations and the humanitarian actors who depend on these flights to reach the most vulnerable groups of the population,” said OCHA humanitarian coordinator Bruno Lemarquis.

Eastern DRC is plagued by dozens of militias, many a legacy of devastating regional wars that flared at the turn of the 21st century.

One rebel group, the M23, has seized swathes of territory in North Kivu since late 2021 and is edging closer to Goma, a city of over one million people on the border with Rwanda.

According to OCHA, over 5.7 million people have been displaced inside the east African country, and over 26 million continue to suffer from food insecurity.

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