Major Food Shortage in Central African Republic

Major Food Shortage in Central African Republic

The Central African Republic has seen increased violence in recent days between Christian and Muslim militias, but people are also dying in the streets due to lack of food supplies. The World Food Program (WFP) estimates that about a million people in the Central African Republic – 20% of the population – have fled their homes during months of communal violence since Seleka rebels seized power last March.

African and French forces are trying to restore order and protect civilians and humanitarian workers. They’ll soon be joined by an EU force of several hundred. Armed Muslim and Christian groups have been battling since early December. About a million people have been internally displaced. Tens of thousands of others have fled to neighboring countries.

The WFP said Thursday that emergency supplies in the Central African Republic are extremely low. The U.N. agency has not been able to replenish its food stocks due to the lack of security.

Asked when food supplies might run out of if trucks or planes do not arrive soon, WFP spokesman Alexis Masciarelli said, “It’s difficult to tell you one, two or three days because it depends how much we give out everyday. But we really have only a few days left – maximum one week left.”

Truck drivers are refusing to make the trips to deliver food supplies from the Cameroonian border to Bangui, 375 miles away.

“At the moment we have 43 trucks at the border with over a thousand tons of food, and the drivers argue that it’s too unsafe for drivers to go through basically on their own. And we’re trying to convince them that it is safe enough to go with an armed convoy.” Mascialli said.

WFP officials at the Rome headquarters and in Africa will decide when an airlift would be conducted if truck convoys remained stalled at the Cameroonian border. If some trucks do get through, the WFP could still opt to fly in some supplies to replenish stocks more quickly.