20 January 2014

Central Africa: WFP - Emergency Food Running Out in CAR

The World Food Program warns it is running out of emergency food aid in Central African Republic. The U.N. agency says supply routes are blocked as fighting and insecurity worsen.

WFP spokesperson Frances Kennedy says as the number of people in need has risen the amount of available food aid has declined.

"Well, the World Food Program is extremely concerned about food supplies into the Central African Republic. We have 38 WFP trucks that are carrying rice, that are blocked at the border coming in from Cameroon. This is going to affect our capacity to get those supplies that are needed so badly down to the capital Bangui and also to other parts of the country."

She said it's just too dangerous to send the food truck convoy on its way - as armed Muslim and Christian groups fight around the country.

"There has been fighting on the road there and we have not yet been able to get those trucks unblocked," she said.

Meanwhile, the distribution of dwindling food stocks continues.

She said, "The World Food Program is distributing in Bangui to the displaced people, who have gathered at the airport - and also in the makeshift camp there - to other sites in the capital. Also, we've been able to get food to Bossangoa. Insecurity interrupted getting our trucks up there. We've managed to get that food through and food distributions in the villages and around Bossangoa are resuming."

Kennedy said that if food shipments do not resume very soon, supplies could run out in about a week.

"We've got a situation here where we need to get food in in large quantities. We're looking at all we can do to try and work with the parties there to get the security situation so that the trucks can freely and safely move down with the food. We're also looking at other possible alternatives, one of which would be airlifting from Cameroon to Bangui. That's something which is a last resort option because it's extremely expensive. So, we're working on all other ways to try and get that food there by land," she said.

The World Food Program says it needs 107-million dollars for its operations in Central African Republic. Kennedy said donors are already stretched thin by funding humanitarian efforts in Syria and South Sudan, but she said the funds are urgently needed in CAR, as well.

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