Bangui/Rome — The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said today it would scale up food distributions in conflict-wracked Central African Republic (CAR) to assist up to 1.25 million people in the next eight months as growing numbers of people go hungry.
WFP appealed for nearly US$107 million through August 2014 to assist both hundreds of thousands of displaced people and others whose food security is disrupted by violence.
"We urgently need support from donors so we won't start running out of food in January," said WFP West Africa Regional Director Denise Brown in Bangui. "We are providing food for hungry people wherever we can in CAR. But insecurity is the biggest challenge."
"We therefore urge all parties to the conflict to ensure the safe and unhindered access of humanitarian personnel and the timely delivery of humanitarian assistance to people in need wherever they are. WFP is neutral and delivers assistance solely on the basis of need."
In spite of the volatile security situation, WFP and its partners have assisted more than 237,000 people since 5 December in CAR. In total, WFP has provided food to over 174,000 people in Bangui, 41,500 people in the northeastern city of Bossangoa and 21,500 people in Bouar.
WFP will focus from January to April 2014 on providing assistance to people in immediate need by increasing food distributions, supplementary feeding to combat malnutrition among children under five and assistance to vulnerable groups. From May to August, it will also reach more people in need of food during the lean season when the last harvest runs out.
The new emergency operation specifies that because of security risks, food distributions will be undertaken by teams moving swiftly from site to site and able to adjust plans. To avoid putting people in need of assistance at risk, a protection analysis will be conducted in each place. In some locations, cooked meals may be provided to help protect women and children.
WFP said it and its partners were closely and continuously monitoring the unfolding crisis in CAR and would adapt the number of people it assists, for how long and where as necessary.
WFP is reaching out to local community leaders to inform people about food distributions. The organization will solicit the concerns, ideas and priorities of people, especially women and vulnerable groups, so those most in need are reached despite all the obstacles.
Earlier in December, WFP launched a special operation to deploy more staff, set up local offices, obtain vital security and telecommunications equipment and support establishing cross-border humanitarian flights into CAR at a cost of US$5.3 million through June 2014.