Bangui — The World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed the first ever delivery of food assistance to the landlocked Central African Republic (C.A.R.) using barges along the Ubangui River from neighbouring Republic of Congo. The new supply route from Brazzaville to Bangui is an alternative and complementary supply line that will make live-saving food assistance available more quickly in C.A.R.
The shipment received today, which includes pulses and vegetable oil, is the first of several dispatches expected from this route. The food commodities are part of a donation from the United States, WFP's biggest donor in C.A.R.
"The ability to use the Ubangui River during the rainy season allows WFP to have an additional route from July to December every year which is faster, does not require military escorts, and can transport a large quantity of vital food supplies," said WFP's Country Director ad interim, Samir Wanmali. "The donations from the people of the United States form the bedrock of WFP operations in C.A.R. We are grateful to the US Government and USAID for supporting the most vulnerable people in the country."
Commercial and humanitarian cargo into the C.A.R. is mainly channelled through the port of Douala in neighbouring Cameroon. However, congestion on this supply corridor, which WFP uses for 90 percent of commodities, the onset of the rainy season, a weak road infrastructure and security incidents along the route from Douala to Bangui, all contribute to delays in receiving supplies and in turn, hamper WFP's ability to support vulnerable people.
"The United States is committed to providing life-saving humanitarian aid to Central Africans in need. I'm pleased to see this new supply route opened, and I thank my colleagues at the U.S. Embassy in Brazzaville and our partners at WFP for making the logistics for this critical delivery possible," said Lucy Tamlyn, United States' Ambassador to the C.A.R.
Humanitarian needs are increasing in C.A.R as existing vulnerabilities of crisis-affected populations have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with a significant impact on the food and nutrition security.
In June 2020, WFP provided food assistance to nearly 670,000 people. However, the WFP operation in C.A.R has significant funding shortfalls that will hamper its ability to meet urgent food and nutrition needs within the country. WFP needs US$ 83 million to be able to provide food assistance to 1.8 million people until the end of the year.