Hunger in the Democratic Republic of Congo has soared in the last year, leaving 7.7 million people in urgent need of food aid and pushing the country closer to famine than it has been in a decade, food security experts said on Monday.
Much of the rise in hunger - 1.8 million new people were added to the list - stems from escalating violence in the Kasai and Tanganyika regions, which in Kasai alone has forced 1.4 million people to flee their homes in the past year.
More than 1.5 million people are now facing "emergency" hunger levels, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), whose members include the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Program, said on Monday."Emergency" means people are forced to sell possessions and skip or reduce their meals. It is one level below a classification of famine in the IPC's internationally-recognized five stages of hunger.
"This is the first time in 10 years that we're so close to level five (famine)," said Alexis Bonte, FAO's interim representative in Congo. "It's a humanitarian tsunami, but it's a silent tsunami, that's the problem," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Congo now has 3.8 million people displaced within the country, in addition to a steady flow of refugees from neighboring Burundi, Central African Republic and South Sudan. "It has been hidden by other crises," Bonte said, referring to South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen.