- The UN today voiced "extreme concern" at the upsurge in fighting over past weeks in parts of Burundi. The new fighting was cutting off thousands of newly displaced people from emergency food aid distribution, the UN food agency said.
- Even a one-week delay for people who have no food and no way of getting food is a week too long, the World Food Programme (WFP) Country Director in the central African country, Zlatan Milisic, said in a statement released today.
The upsurge in fighting came at the worst possible moment for many displaced people. "In many cases, when people flee the fighting they must leave their homes without taking any food with them," WFP said. "In their absence, their belongings - including clothes, kitchen utensils, and food stocks - are often plundered."
- WFP is extremely concerned about the nutritional status of displaced Burundians, as well as the limited ability of the already poor and struggling communities hosting them to cope, Mr Milisic explained.
He pledged that when security conditions permit, "food will be quickly distributed to the displaced people." Access was however urgent, according to Mr Milisic. The last time WFP had access to these people was in mid-February. Since then further reports have emerged of residents fleeing rural communes after more clashes between the Bujumbura government and the rebel Forces Nationales de Liberation (FNL).
WFP said continued insecurity had forced now it to cancel last week's planned emergency food aid distributions to 13,000 people who had recently fled their homes in Muhuta Commune. During the last month, several reports had emerged of residents fleeing other rural communes in the wake of more clashes between the government and rebels.
Despite improved overall security in most of Burundi, there are regular reports of displacements in western areas, especially Bujumbura Rural Province, where several thousand people have been forced to flee over recent weeks, according to WFP, which reported that targeted killings, rape of women, armed robbery and looting of households are continuing.
In many cases, when people flee the fighting they must leave their homes without taking any food with them. In their absence, their belongings, including clothes, kitchen utensils, and food stocks, are often plundered.
Since January, WFP has delivered about 1,150 tons of food aid in Bujumbura Rural province benefiting some 113,400 vulnerable people.
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