A convoy of barges carrying desperately needed aid to the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Oriental Province has set sail from Kinshasa, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced today.The “Convoy of Hope,” which left the Congolese capital yesterday with more than 1,000 tons of medicines, food and other necessities, will take three weeks to make the 1,700 kilometres journey to Kisangani in the Oriental Province, where between 6 and 7 million people are in critical need, FAO says.The people in the region have struggled for months in isolation from the rest of the country to make ends meet and grow their own food, according to FAO. As a result of deteriorating roads and closed river traffic, market activities have gradually dwindled, as agricultural produce fails to get through. In addition to providing immediate relief, the aim of the convoy is also to demonstrate the importance of establishing humanitarian/economic corridors, which would allow a resumption of trade between Kinshasa and the eastern and northern parts of the country. The convoy is the result of a collective mobilization of resources by 26 partners, among them UN agencies, religious and international non-governmental organizations, Congolese partners and donors including Belgium, the European Union, the United States, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland.

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