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21 March 2014

People often laugh when I say I like to meet smiling, chubby babies when I’m out looking at World Food Programme operations in the field. But it’s true. A happy, healthy baby is the most obvious sign that we’re getting things right. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that we are going to get things right all of the time, everywhere in the world. The desperate situation I’ve witnessed these past few days in the Central African Republic shows the dangers of ignoring the warning signals for far too long.


21 March 2014

A senior United Nations relief official today stressed the need to act quickly to assist people suffering from food insecurity and malnutrition in the Central African Republic (CAR), after witnessing the alarming situation first-hand during a visit to the strife-torn nation. “Today I heard harrowing stories from ordinary women and children of losing their families in the violence and traumatic attacks that forced them to flee,” Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), said after a visit to the north-western town of Bossangoa.


21 March 2014

Outlying Cameroonian shops in the buffer zone have been ransacked by various protagonists in the Central African crisis, which has escalated into an ethno-religious conflict. "If food doesn't arrive in Bangui, we are absolutely certain to see a further crisis," French army spokesman Gilles Jaron warned last week. The rainy season is due in April, he added, making driving harder than ever. Before the latest conflict, about 600 lorries plied the road each week, but traffic decreased sharply when armed groups attacked, together with highway bandits who have long been a problem.


21 March 2014

Marriages between Christians and Muslims have survived the chaotic upheavals that the Central African Republic has endured since gaining independence from France, the former colonial power, in 1960. But the latest cataclysm is shattering these mixed unions, dividing families and communities. U.N. officials and aid workers are worried that the brutality and vengeance could permanently destroy the relationships between Christians and Muslims here.


21 March 2014

More than 30,000 Muslims have fled the Central African Republic (CAR) since religious and political conflict began a year ago. Nearly 10,000 refugees, both Muslims and Christians, are accommodated in the Boyabu Camp, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The refugees from the two religions live peacefully side by side, and say this was the case for many years back home.


21 March 2014

The Ukraine crisis is hampering the European Union's plans to send a peacekeeping force to Central African Republic because nervous eastern European countries want to keep their troops at home rather than send them to Africa, diplomats said on Friday. The EU has drawn up plans to send 800 to 1,000 soldiers to Central African Republic to join 6,000 African and 2,000 French troops, who have struggled to stop the fighting that started when the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power a year ago in the majority Christian state.


13 March 2014

Sido, a village on the Chad side of the border, is caught up in the turmoil in the Central African Republic. Its twin, across the border, is still controlled by Muslim Seleka rebels. It is a key crossing point between the two countries. Since conflict started in December some 35,000 people – mostly Muslims fleeing the violent reprisals of anti-Balaka Christian militia – have arrived here, some on foot but mostly in convoys escorted by the Chadian army. More than half of them have carried on into Chad, but 14,000 have stayed put.


11 March 2014

The United Nations has launched a human rights investigation into the violence in the Central African Republic. Inquiry head Bernard Acho Muna said he hoped the presence of investigators in CAR would help prevent genocide. The UN's World Food Programme says that about 1.3 million people - a quarter of the population - are in need of aid.


4 March 2014

To help minimise the costs of future famines the World Food Programme (WFP) was founded by the United Nations in 1961, as a multilateral institution designed to co-ordinate the distribution of food aid to needy places around the world. Last year, the WFP helped to feed over 90m people in 80 different countries. But the way it distributes food relief has been changing. Economists now see the next great challenge for the international community as reducing the negative consequences of malnutrition rather than famine.


4 March 2014

The world is watching: That has been the resounding message of world powers in the face of deadly sectarian strife in the Central African Republic. Yet how much is the world willing to pay to stanch the killings? That delicate, awkward debate has begun, behind the scenes, at the United Nations.