UN says nearly 2.5 million face starvation in CAR

United Nations says half of population of Central African Republic face hunger due to food shortages

Photo by: AP (Archive )
Photo by: AP (Archive )

Trucks loaded with food aid arrive in capital Bangui, Central African Republic.

UN officials have said almost 2.5 million in Central African Republic are going hungry everyday, double the number a year ago, as they called for help to stem the "dire" food situation from getting worse.

Three years of unrest that has forced nearly one million people out of their homes has disrupted harvests and caused a major increase in the country’s food prices.

"It is serious. The situation is worse than last year," United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) country director Bienvenu Djossa said in a phone interview from capital Bangui.

"We do not want to cross our (arms) and wait for a catastrophe to happen - that's why we are saying we need more money. Our call would be, don't let CAR be forgotten."

Djossa said families are so short of food that children receiving school meals under the WFP's emergency programme save part of the meal to take home.

WFP said these families who face hunger with many surviving on cheap, low-nutrient food have gone through selling their possessions, pulling their children out of school and even begging for food.

Djossa also added that acute food insecurity in CAR had risen five times since last year.

In this file photo, children wait in line for food aid in the Central African Republic, where a list shows the available amounts of beans, cooking oil and grain.

The country went through its worst crisis in its history in early 2013 when mainly Muslim Seleka’s overthrew then leader Francois Bozize. Christian anti-Balaka militias responded by attacking the Muslim minority.

According to a report by The WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), crop production in 2015 was less than half the pre-crisis average.

Killing and looting had almost halved the number of cattle and reduced the number of sheep and goats by almost 60 percent, they added. Damage to infrastructure and insecurity had also hit fishing.

An escalation of violence in September helped boost food prices, the agencies said, and added that enhancing agriculture in CAR - where three quarters of people depend on farming - was crucial for the country to get back on track.

"...with the planting season starting in less than two months, boosting agriculture now is crucial to revitalising the economy and to stability in the country," FAO country representative Jean-Alexandre Scaglia said in a statement.

WFP said it only has half the $89 million it needs until the end of July to respond to the needs of 1.4 million people in CAR and neighbouring countries hosting CAR refugees.

FAO, which has been helping farmers with seeds and tools and vaccinating livestock, is appealing for $86 million.

TRTWorld, Reuters