UN agency begins airlifting food aid for refugees uprooted from DR Congo

12 March 2010The United Nations today started to airlift urgent food aid for tens of thousands of people who have fled ethnic violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and are seeking refuge in neighbouring Republic of Congo (ROC). More than 120,000 Congolese have fled violent clashes in the DRC since October last year and crossed the river westwards into the Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic (CAR), according to a news release issued by the World Food Programme (WFP).WFP has been distributing food to Congolese refugees since the end of November, providing assistance to more than 59,000 mainly women and children. Today’s airlift – from Pointe Noire to Impfondo in the Republic of Congo’s Likouala province – will allow the agency to replenish food stocks with 600 metric tons of maize, pulses and salt, enough to distribute emergency rations for two weeks to some 100,000 refugees.WFP has been moving food along a road corridor from the CAR, as well as dispatching hundreds of tons of relief supplies on barges along the Congo and Oubangui rivers from Brazzaville port. However, it had to contend with low water levels on the Oubangui and insecurity which have posed significant challenges to the operation.“Getting regular food supplies to such a remote area has been a major logistical challenge, and we had no other resort than to start airlifts from Pointe Noire to beef up our food stocks,” said Alix Loriston, WFP Representative in the Republic of Congo.Since 15 February, WFP has been flying humanitarian partners from Brazzaville to Impfondo, and airlifting supplies from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and other agencies. Earlier this week, the UN and its partners launched an appeal for just under $60 million to help some 110,000 DRC refugees in the Republic of Congo, the vast majority of whom are women and children, as well as 58,000 host families for a six-month period. read more

Endangered red panda found after escape from British zoo

Talking in November about the two female cubs, a Belfast Zoo spokeswoman said the pair were born to parents, Chris and Vixen. Chris arrived at Belfast Zoo, from Beekse Bergen Safari Park in the Netherlands, in 2013. As part of the collaborative breeding programme he was joined by a female, named Vixen, who arrived from Dresden Zoo in April 2017. The pair hit it off straight away and after a gestation period of approximately 135 days, Vixen gave birth to two healthy female cubs on 19 June 2018.Alyn Cairns, Zoo Manager, said: “We are pleased to report that Amber has been safely returned to Belfast Zoo after a short time exploring the local area. We would like to thank all of those involved in the search for our missing red panda. “Over the last few weeks the twins have become more adventurous and visitors will hopefully get the chance to spot our colourful little arrivals as they start exploring their habitat.”It was not immediately clear which one of two red pandas cubs but the species is notorious for disappearing from enclosures.In 2001 and 2002, two red pandas escaped from Belfast Zoo into the nearby Cave Hill area and in 2009, one was found in a tree outside London Zoo. Most recently, Edinburgh Zoo called a search for one of its red pandas in 2017.But the survival rate is so good that when a 19-month-old red panda disappeared from Virginia Zoo in 2017, it was found alive after two weeks in the wild. We are happy to report that the missing red panda has been located and is being returned to its home at Belfast Zoo – thanks to everyone for their help with the search! pic.twitter.com/hHLcLmtDyv— Belfast Zoo (@BelfastZoo) January 28, 2019 The animals are largely nocturnal, can deal with the cold weather and enjoy living in trees, where they can forage for bird eggs to eat, making the immediate woodland area surrounding the zoo suitable for the escaped panda’s survival.Belfast Zoo will not be open to visitors today and is closed week for maintenance works this week. Warning the public during its search, police said: “Our curious friend has not yet learned the green cross code, so if motorists could also be vigilant.”In June, the zoo celebrated the arrival the red panda, along with its twin, and towards the end of the year staff were beginning to notice the pair getting more adventurous. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the red panda is facing a very high risk of extinction. “Following the initial report of the escape, we discovered a power fault in an electric fence in red panda habitat. Our maintenance team were informed at the earliest opportunity and the fence has since been repaired. Safety and security of our animals is of paramount importance so we will continue to monitor this to ensure there are no further incidents.”Red panda cubs are born blind and develop quite slowly. They therefore spend the first few months in the den. It is for this reason that, despite being born back in June, the twins have only recently started to venture outside.  An endangered red panda cub has been found alive and well after it escaped from Belfast Zoo on Sunday.Officers in the Northern Ireland capital said Amber, a cub, went missing yesterday after an electrical fault in the enclosure’s fence and she was “believed to be taking in the sights of beautiful Glengormley”.  But she is now safe at home, having been found in the garden of a family home this morning.According to the zoo, the panda cub was first spotted by a local resident who flagged its whereabouts to the police, who received a call at 5.30pm yesterday. Following a wider appeal, the zoo received a dozen calls to report potential sightings this morning, some of which led to its capture within a mile of the zoo.The search team believe the cub travelled through woodland and spent the night in trees.Belfast Zoo said that following a check up from the vet, the red panda appears to be well and is back in its enclosure.In a Tweet, the council said: “We are happy to report that the missing red panda has been located and is being returned to its home @BelfastZoo – thanks to everyone for their help with the search!” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more