WFP SCALING UP OPERATIONS IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC TO ASSIST PEOPLE IN NEED AND DISPLACED BY CONFLICT
BANGUI, Central African Republic, September 20, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- At the end of a two-day visit to the Central African Republic (CAR), the UN World Food Programme (WFP) Regional Director for West Africa, Denise Brown, says that the organization is committed to scaling up food assistance to people displaced by conflict in CAR.
Brown visited CAR to see first-hand the situation of vulnerable people in dire need of food assistance. InBozoum, 400 km northwest of the capital Bangui, she met beneficiariesamong thousands of people who have fled conflict in Bossangoa. Displaced people, many of them women, walk for days with their children in search of a safe place, leaving everything behind.
The re-emergence of conflict in the country is placing vulnerable households and communities at risk of food insecurity. Up to 500,000 people are estimated to needimmediate food assistance and this figure is likely to increase as the planting season has been disrupted by conflict and displacement. WFP is re-opening its offices in the north eastern and western parts of the country and using mobile teams to reach people in areas that remain insecure.
“The presence of the international humanitarian community in CAR infull force is extremely important. We are at a critical time in the country whensupport is immediately required,” said the WFP director.
In meetings with President Michel Djotodia, Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye, and members of the transitional government, Brownstressed the need for security guarantees for WFP and its partners so they can safely carry out food assistance programmes.
Brown also met Special Representative of the Secretary General Babacar Gaye, Humanitarian Coordinator KaarinaImmonen and humanitarian partners and underscored the importance of the international community's involvement as well as education as priorities for CAR.
While many schools remain closed and teachers are absent due to security reasons, WFP will provide emergency school meals at schools that reconvene in October from summer vacation. The emergency school feeding programme will ease the food and nutritional crisis among children and help reduce the risk of children being recruited by armed groups.
“The first day of school is around the corner. We have got to get the children back in school but we need security and conditions that allow parents to send their children to school in confidence” saidBrown. “We need to do more, invest in education and nutrition and jump start the economy in this country”.