WFP warns of developing crisis in central Africa, endangering hundreds of thousands

Published on 17 April 2007

WFP has appealed for increased international donor support to avert a deepening humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic, where hundreds of thousands of people displaced by war and civil conflict are in urgent need of food assistance.

WFP has appealed for increased international donor support to avert a deepening humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic, where hundreds of thousands of people displaced by war and civil conflict are in urgent need of food assistance.

“The humanitarian situation in CAR is serious, and getting worse as a result of the violence and conflict spilling over from Darfur,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran.

“We need to increase our operations to cover the food needs of 230,000 people in this growing emergency.”

The appeal comes ahead of Sheeran’s visit to Ethiopia, Sudan and Chad next week, where she will assess the impact of the spill-over of the Darfur conflict for WFP operations in the region.

Her visit will follow on the visit to Sudan and the Central African region in early April by John Holmes, UN Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, who also focussed on the worsening situation in the often-overlooked emergency in CAR.

WFP is more than doubling its budget and scaling up its aid operations nearly six-fold to reach 230,000 people within CAR whose lives have been savaged by the ongoing violence.

Another 20,000 Central Africans who have fled west into Cameroon are targeted through a new WFP operation, while close to 50,000 refugees are already receiving WFP assistance in camps in southern Chad.

Total cost for this humanitarian effort is likely to exceed US$50 million. In CAR alone, the newly expanded operation is budgeted at US$44 million, but donor contributions to date amount to $14 million.

  • CAR shares borders with Chad, Sudan’s Darfur region and the Democratic Republic of Congo, all of which are already the scenes of major humanitarian crises.
  • Recent WFP missions into the affected areas have discovered hundreds of abandoned villages and thousands of burned-out huts with commercial activity dwindled to a virtual standstill.
  • Without sufficient funding, WFP could be forced to cut rations for as many as 180,000 people in the area, while other groups may remain completely deprived of assistance.
  • A recent WFP assessment mission of the 20,000 Central Africans in Chad found that around 22 percent of the under-fives are suffering from global acute malnutrition, and that nearly 12 percent of the children are severely malnourished.
  • Donors to WFP’s relief and recovery operations in CAR include: the USA (US$4.5 million); Multilateral funds (US$4.3 million); UN Central Emergency Response Fund (US$1.8 million – CERF ; Canada (US$862,000); Germany (US$652,000); UK (US$522,000); Switzerland (US$409,000); Ireland (US$296,000) and Luxembourg (US$296,000).