The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today that it may have to cut its feeding programme in the Central African Republic (CAR), where tens of thousands risk becoming malnourished unless new funding is secured.
The agency is facing a $15 million shortfall over the next eight months to provide food assistance to some 600,000 people mainly in the conflict-affected northern part of the country.
WFP provides assistance in the eastern regions to 9,100 refugees from Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and 14,000 people forced to flee from their homes due to attacks by the Ugandan rebel Lord`s Resistance Army (LRA). In addition, there has been an influx of 17,500 Congolese refugees into the southern Lobaye region since 2009.
The additional needs stretched our resources to the limit, " said WFP Country Director Sitta Kai-Kai.
If funds are not available in the next two months, we will have to reduce rations for some of the 100,000 refugees and displaced and even entirely suspend food assistance for others. "
Ms. Kai-Kai warned that this would escalate tensions with the host population as pressure grows on local resources.
If new funds are not found by the time schools re-open in October, rations would be reduced for some 150,000 children receiving school meals, 17,000 acutely malnourished children and 15,000 pregnant and nursing mothers being assisted at nutrition centres, WFP noted in a news release.
The agency, which could run out of food in November, stressed it is crucial that new contributions are made soon since it takes four to five months for food to arrive in landlocked CAR.
WFP needs cash in particular so it could buy food locally as well as from neighbouring Cameroon. It needs $6.6 million by September to maintain all its programmes in CAR through the end of the year.
Over the past five years, insecurity in northern CAR has displaced nearly 200,000 people within the country, and sent an additional 200,000 fleeing into neighbouring countries. Humanitarian agencies have appealed for a total of $113.6 million to assist those in need.