As insecurity in Chad continues to make international headlines, WFP has urged the international community not to lose sight of the suffering of as many as 50,000 displaced people in the troubled northwest region of neighbouring Central African Republic.
It is imperative that the violence and uncertainty comes to a complete end
WFP CAR Country Director Jean-Charles Dei
In one of the world’s least recognised conflicts, many thousands of Central Africans have been forced from their homes in recent months by fighting between government forces and rebel militias.
They are now scattered in the bush, in many cases surviving on wild leaves and roots in the absence of properly nutritious food.
Competing humanitarian needs
WFP is now revising its operation in CAR to include the needs for three months of the recently displaced, for which it will require a further US$2.7 million.
“In CAR we always struggle to have our voice heard amid all the other competing humanitarian needs, but these people are living in desperate conditions and for this reason we are trying to shout louder than ever on their behalf – they need our assistance now,” said WFP CAR Country Director Jean-Charles Dei.
Although the northwest has been a no-go zone for UN agencies for several months, WFP has been working with the NGOs COOPI, Caritas and the CAR Red Cross to mount an emergency response in the Markounda and Paoua areas.
Women and children at risk
Thus far over 10,000 people have received food aid, but the needs are far greater and are urgent.
WFP is particularly concerned about the nutritional status of young children and women, given the extremely poor diets they are currently surviving on.
With the rainy season imminent, the most vulnerable will have great difficulty fighting off the increased disease and infection which follows as a matter of course.
Even those that have been able to stay in their villages are facing extreme difficulties eking out their food supplies until the next harvest in September/October as the annual ‘hunger season’ begins to bite.
Refugees flee to Chad
WFP is increasing its operational capacity by reopening its sub-office in the town of Kaga Bandoro, allowing it better access to the worst affected parts of the country.
Some 7,000 refugees from CAR have crossed over into southern Chad since the security situation in the northwest deteriorated at the beginning of the year.
There they have joined an earlier group of Central Africans who fled violence in 2003, bringing the total number in three camps in southern Chad to 47,000.
“The trouble in northwest CAR has a direct bearing on peace and security north of the border in Chad. It is imperative that the violence and uncertainty comes to a complete end and that humanitarian organisations are allowed full access to tend to the needs of those who are currently in great difficulty,” said Dei.