Conflict in the Central African Republic has made food distribution efforts difficult and may have caused further humanitarian problems.
As a rebel coalition gains more control over the Central African Republic, a hunger crisis is also escalating in the country. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said yesterday, "The current situation is limiting WFP's ability to provide country wide support".
WFP also said that towns it distributed food to in December have now been occupied by rebel forces. Currently, food aid is suspended in areas held by the rebels.
Further troubling is that the extent of displacement and humanitarian needs is not yet fully known. A UNICEF-led assessment team is heading to conflict-affected areas.
In the capital city of Bangui, food prices have reportedly risen by 27% placing a further strain on the population. South African peacekeepers have been deployed to help prevent rebel forces from moving toward Bangui.
WFP is not only facing difficulty accessing areas, but also low funding for its country programmes including nutritional support for small children and school feeding. A humanitarian air service WFP runs is out of funding. This service allows humanitarian workers to be transported to hard to reach areas of the country where people are in need. WFP depends on voluntary donations from governments and the public.
William Lambers is the author of Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World. His other books include The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, The Road to Peace and The Spirit of the Marshall Plan: Taking Action Against World Hunger.