Many children are at great risk of starvation in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the UN food agency.
The most vulnerable are children, women and the elderly (WFP photo)
The five-year conflict in the region has had a drastic effect on the lives of the local populations.
World Food Programme (WFP) staff visiting a local hospital in Walungu, South Kivu, found children showing all the symptoms of severe malnutrition.
"We saw wards filled with emaciated babies and young children with distended stomachs, stick-like limbs and whose hair had turned yellow," said WFP's Felix Bamezon.
"These children are slowly dying of starvation. We cannot simply stand by and let it happen."
The WFP is appealing for 46,000 tonnes of food to be distributed over a six month period to about 500,000 people most affected by the war.
Violence targeting women has made many too frightened to go to work in their fields, the WFP says.
Where they have managed to harvest, their crops have been frequently looted.
Agricultural production is down to about 10% of pre-war levels.
The humanitarian crisis has been further aggravated over the past month by fresh outbreaks of fighting between rival militia groups in the north-eastern town of Bunia.
French special forces have been arriving to assist UN peacekeepers in Bunia.
About 300,000 people have been displaced by the latest clashes.
Some 60,000 of them have recently arrived in Beni, about 400km south of Bunia.
The most vulnerable groups are children, pregnant women and the elderly.
WFP's emergency operations will target these new arrivals.