Sunday, February 17, 2013

United Nations Warns of Food Crisis in Central African Republic

UN warns of food crisis in Central African Republic

Sat Feb 16, 2013 3:30AM GMT

The United Nations food agency has warned of a food crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR), which experienced a month-long insurgency which ended in January.

“The cost of a food basket has increased by 40 percent in the area under the control of the Central African armed forces. Some of the zones under the control of the Seleka [rebel coalition] are experiencing food deficits due to price increases,” the World Food Program (WFP) said in a statement on Friday.

Nearly 800,000 people live in the Seleka-held areas, where the WFP has distributed aid to 200,000 people.

The statement noted that the food shortage in the Central African Republic could be especially severe from May to September.

On January 11, the CAR signed a ceasefire deal with Seleka.

The Seleka rebels launched an offensive against the CAR government in December 2012, accusing President Francois Bozize of refusing to make good on his 2007 pledge to create jobs for insurgents who laid down their arms.

With a population of 4.5 million, the Central African Republic is one of the least developed countries in the world despite having large deposits of diamonds, gold, and uranium.

“Humanitarian access to the Seleka zone must be ensured to avoid a crisis,” said Housainou Taal, who represents the WFP in the CAR.

In addition, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) expressed concern about prospects for the growing season, which is weeks away.

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