CAR: UN calls for funds to ramp up food aid

02 Nov 2013 Print

CAR: UN calls for funds to ramp up food aid
New York, Nov 2 (JEN): Concerned by the rising food insecurity in the Central African Republic, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Friday said that it plans to boost its humanitarian efforts, while also calling for more financial support.

“Humanitarian needs have risen in recent months as renewed fighting has exacerbated the already precarious security situation,” WFP spokesperson, Elisabeth Byrs, told journalists in Geneva Friday, adding that in order to guarantee the continued food assistance in the country, the agency requires an additional USD 20 million from now until April 2014.

The ongoing conflict has disrupted the livelihoods of already vulnerable families since March, leading to some 1.1 million people being food insecure.

According to the WFP-backed Emergency Food Security Assessment (EFSA), which was released in September and which warned of poor harvests now and in coming months, the food security situation will aggravate if the violence continues. Farmers will be forced to leave their farms, depriving them of access to conduct agricultural activities. Therefore, as the EFSA alerted, it will cause poor harvest.

The UN agency is carrying out various humanitarian activities on the ground, such as assisting refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), providing essential nutrition to women, children and HIV-affected people, delivering school meals and conducting livelihood projects.

“WFP is planning to reach a total of 500,000 people and introduce a new blanket supplementary feeding program for 66,000 children aged between 6-35 months to prevent moderate acute malnutrition.” Byrs said, adding that the agency will also launch an emergency school feeding program when schools reopen in November to provide food for 10,000 children.

Meanwhile, she warned that the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS), managed by WFP, requires USD 9 million to operate from January to December 2014. It is the sole means of transport for the humanitarian community to reach most parts of CAR, which are inaccessible due to weak infrastructure and poor roads.

Further, the unstable security situation caused the temporary closure of several WFP offices and the relocation of its staff, making the food relief efforts more complicated.

Plagued by decades of instability and fighting, the country witnessed a resumption of violence last December when the Séléka rebel coalition launched a series of attacks. A peace agreement was reached in January, but the rebels again seized the capital, Bangui, in March, forcing President François Bozizé to flee.

There is now a transitional government, headed by Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye, entrusted with restoring law and order and paving the way for democratic elections. But armed clashes in the north-east have increased since the beginning of August, and the country is facing a dire humanitarian situation that affects the entire population of some 4.6 million.


Food rations being handed out at this WFP distribution centre on the grounds of the community hospital in Bangui, Central African Republic. Photo: WFP/Herve Serefio