In the Democratic Republic of Congo, civil unrest and violence is putting 3 million people at risk of starvation, according to officials at the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP), the Independent is reporting

“We saw burned huts, burned homes, seriously malnourished children that had been stunted, obviously many children have died already,” David Beasley, the head of the World Food Programme (WFP) told the BBC.

“We need help, and we need it right now,” Beasley said. Without it, he said, several hundred thousand children will die in the next few months.

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The DRC has been steeped in a strife ever since 2016, when government forces and rebel militias broke out into armed conflict following a local leader’s refusal to acknowledge the legitimacy of the national government in the central region of Kasai.

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The leader was eventually killed by government forces, but the militia he established continues to engage in clashes with the government, along with a number of discrete rebel forces which arose in opposition to the state.

Now, with human rights violations being leveled against both rebel and government forces, reports indicate that thousands have been killed, and over 1.5 million Congolese have been displaced from their homes amidst the political violence.

Read More: Congo's 'Hidden' Hunger Crisis Leaves Millions In Need of Food Aid

While government leaders in the UN and greater international community focus on pressuring Congolese authorities to find democratic solutions to this violence, humanitarian aid workers are desperately trying to bring attention the scope of the suffering inflicted on civilians caught in the crosshairs of conflict.

Armed conflicts often beget hunger, as violence has the potential to disrupt food systems and destabilize the livelihoods of the population.

Read More: 3 Million Kids Die from Malnutrition Each Year. Here Are 6 Ways You Can Help

Beasley noted that the WFP had received only 1% of the funding it would need to adequately address the humanitarian crisis developing in Kasai. With coming rains, providing food and shelter to millions of innocent civilians will become much harder if immediate action is delayed.

“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,” he said.


Defeat Poverty

3 Million People Are Facing Starvation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, WFP Warns

By Andrew McMaster