March 30, 2006
Lubumbashi, DRC/New York, March 30, 2006 – In the past week, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has conducted nutritional surveys in three camps for displaced Congolese around the town of Dubie, near Lake Mweru, in Katanga province, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The results are staggering, with the prevalence of global malnutrition at 19.2 percent and of severe acute malnutrition at 5 percent. Global malnutrition rates of 10-15 percent indicate a food security crisis.
In talking with people in the camps, it has become clear that there is neither enough food in Dubie nor adequate access to any food outside the village. Most people only manage to have one meal a day, usually only consisting of cassava leaves or dried cassava skins.
Together with the survey MSF also conducted a retrospective mortality survey among 563 households.
"Because of our medical interventions we've managed to get the mortality rates down from the initial catastrophic levels," said Séverine Equiluz, Head of Mission for MSF in Lubumbashi, DRC. "But the ongoing lack of food has now created a nutritional crisis. For months now we have asked for more food assistance to come to the region, and apart from one small food convoy, nothing has happened. That's unacceptable."
The 16,000 Congolese living in three camps around Dubie are not the only ones who have been displaced. In the past several months, nearly 90,000 people have fled ongoing fighting between the Congolese army and Mai Mai rebels. The displaced have mostly gathered around the villages of Pweto, Mitwaba, Kilwa, and around the shores of Lake Upemba, where MSF delivers medical assistance.
"Most of the displaced have already been on the run for months, if not years, constantly fleeing violence and insecurity," said Michiel Hofman, operational director for MSF. "The situation has deteriorated, particularly in the last three months. Since late 2005, we have continuously informed everyone about the situation, all the way up to the United Nations' Security Council, and there has basically been no reaction, leaving these people with practically no assistance. With the upcoming elections in the DRC and the increased focus on rehabilitation and reconstruction by international donors, the current humanitarian crisis in Katanga is being ignored."
MSF has been working in Katanga since 1988. Currently more than 50 international and nearly 1,000 national staff works in various projects in Katanga province.
© 2013 Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)