Lilongwe – The UN’s World Food Programme said on Sunday it is facing intense pressure as increasing numbers of refugees arrive in Malawi after fleeing unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The DRC is struggling to contain dozens of armed groups, with rebels capturing swathes of new territory in recent weeks and displacing tens of thousands of people.
Conflicts in the region “have resulted in a continued ﬂow of refugees into Malawi for over two decades”, but there has been “a recent upsurge in new arrivals,” said WFP country director and representative in Malawi Paul Turnbull.
“With the resurgence of violence in eastern Congo, the numbers in 2022 are on a constant rise with about 200 arrivals per month,” Turnbull said.
There were 560 new arrivals in September alone, according to the refugee agency UNHCR.
He warned the UN food agency “only has sufficient resources to provide food assistance to refugees until February 2023”.
Malawi’s only refugee camp, Dzaleka, was designed to accommodate 10 000 people.
It now hosts nearly 56 000 refugees, according to the WFP – mostly from the DRC.
The leader of the Congolese refugees at the camp Romain Bijangala told AFP the food situation was dire.
“People are sleeping on empty stomachs and it’s a crisis because people are suffering,” he said.
“The people have no means of sourcing income so if they do not receive food assistance, then they will definitely die”.