With nearly 1 million civilians driven from their homes by conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR) and 2.2 million - about half the population - in need of humanitarian aid, lack of security, funding and access is hampering efforts by the United Nations and its partners to bring relief.
In its latest update today, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) painted a grim picture of the situation in the impoverished country where a year of violence has taken on increasingly religious connotations with Muslim and Christian militias launching bloody attacks and reprisals.
Since 24 December alone, there has been a 40 per cent increase in people displaced in Bangui, the capital, which now accounts for more than half the total of those uprooted, with some 100,000 seeking refuge at the international airport, where insecurity has made it hard to provide essential services, including an emergency vaccination campaign against measles, which started across the country on 3 January, OCHA reported.
Despite the challenges, UN agencies and humanitarian partners are reaching people with essential relief supplies. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) provided over 1.7 metric tons of food to nearly 250,000 people in December, but it says that its food aid will be 90 per cent depleted in February due to the lack of funding.
Meanwhile, health partners have been providing malnutrition care in six camps in Bangui. Aid organizations have also provided soap, blankets, kitchen sets, sleeping mats and mosquito nets to hundreds of families around the country.
Later this afternoon in New York, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman will brief the Security Council on the latest developments there and the work of the UN integrated office in the Central African Republic, BINUCA.
CAR has been thrown into turmoil since mainly Muslim Séléka rebels launched attacks a year ago and forced President François Bozizé to flee in March.
A transitional government has since been entrusted with restoring peace and paving the way for democratic elections, but armed clashes have erupted again, notably between ex-Séléka and Christian anti-balaka militias.