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The latest conflict driven food crisis has emerged and come to international attention by aid agencies. The thousands who have been displaced in the most recent outburst of violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) are being aided by the World Food Programme (WFP) and were recently visited by the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Powers.

In Bangui and elsewhere in the country, fighting has displaced hundreds of thousands of people and created a humanitarian crisis in which food is a top priority and a main concern for security. It is believed that hundreds of people have been killed in the country since the outbreak of conflict at the beginning of the month and insecurity makes it harder to deliver food to communities that need it. There are still reports of killing in the countryside and the turmoil as created a difficult situation to successfully deliver food aid in

Nearly 127,000 displaced people are in Bangui alone, and these numbers are only  expected to increase. The WFP is giving families rations of maize meal or rice, split peas, vegetable oil and salt. More food is being brought in, but stocks are quickly depleting. Many have gone for days without eating before receiving assistance from WFP-run sites. Activities are frequently disrupted by waves of violence

Seasonal harvesting in some parts of the country has been severely disrupted by the conflict. Aid agencies are scaling up to reach more than a million people in the CAR in 2014. Muslim and Christian fighters continue to carry out atrocities on both sides creating more need and making more families vulnerable.

With the visit of Powers, the highest-ranking U.S. official ever to visit the country, comes $15 million in humanitarian aid from the U.S. Her main focus on the trip was to try to lessen the violence in the country. Christian and Muslims have a history or inter-relations, but the country has been in chaos since the coup in March.

Powers is urging religious leaders to help promote peace and reconciliation and that the government must hold all militias to account

Without a break in violence, aid cannot successfully be delivered and only more will need assistance and food.

Nina Verfaillie
Feature Writer

Sources: NPR, World Food Programme
Photo: Vintage 3D

Poorest_Country_DRC
Poverty is an issue that affects the entire world, and some areas are impacted by poverty more than others. The following is a list of the 10 poorest countries across the globe based on their national GDP (gross domestic product) per capita. Investopedia defines the GDP per capita as a “primary indicator of a country’s economic performance.”

10. Afghanistan
Afghanistan, whose national currency is the Afghan afghani, saw $1,072.19 GDP per capita in 2013. Much of Afghanistan’s economic distress stems from their lengthy history of warfare that spans the last three decades, including the ten-year Soviet war. Despite the nation’s efforts in rebuilding itself, they still suffer the long-term effects — especially the economic effects — of these wars.

9. Madagascar
Madagascar (Malagasy ariary) saw $972.07 GDP per capita in 2013. Although on the list, Madagascar is on the rise; they have seen improvements in their economy from providing increased emphasis on education and better accessibility to health care.

8. Malawi
Malawi (Kwacha) saw $893.84 GDP per capita in 2013. Around 85 percent of the population live in rural areas. Malawi is a still-developing nation that is dealing with the stress of an HIV/AIDS problem. Much of their economy is agriculturally oriented.

7. Niger
Niger, who also uses the CFA Franc, saw $853.43 GDP per capita in 2013. Niger has several detriments of a thriving economic system, including a lack of education and poor health care. Because of its high fertility rate, almost half of the population of Niger are 15 years old or younger. The literacy rate in Niger, 28.7 percent in 2005, is one of the lowest in the entire world.

6. Central African Republic
The Central African Republic (CFA Franc) saw $827.93 GDP per capita in 2013. The CAR has been experiencing the strife of war for the past several years, especially in recent years under the government of General François Bozizé, the Central African Republic Bush War, and the very recent Central African Republic conflict. Government has almost dissolved completely. The Prime Minister has even gone as far as calling the country an anarchy. With no government and an abundance of war, it is easy to see how economic and living conditions could plummet.

5. Eritrea
Eritrea (Nakfa) saw $792.13 GDP per capita in 2013. Eritrea has had a difficult political history, including extended militaristic conflicts with neighboring nations, which has impacted its economy.

4. Liberia
Liberia (Liberian Dollar) saw $716.04 GDP per capita in 2013. A large portion of the population of Liberia live below the poverty threshold. Liberia has also faced political instability and a civil war of its own.

3. Burundi
Burundi (Burundi Franc) saw $648.58 GDP per capita in 2013. Burundi has suffered economically not only from the corruption of their government, but also war, HIV/AIDS, and a lack of accessible education. Only 13 percent of the population of Burundi live in urban cities; the vast majority live in rural areas.

2. Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe (Zimbabwean Dollar) saw  $589.46 GDP per capita in 2013. In the last 10-15 years, Zimbabwe has been experiencing a sharp economic decline, in part due to their involvement in the civil wars occuring in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

1. The Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Congo (Congolese Franc) saw $394.25 GDP per capita in 2013. The capital city, Kinshasa, is home to over 9 million citizens and sits along the Congo River. Plagued with crime, corrupt government, and a lengthy recovery from civil war, it becomes easy to see how poverty can run rampant in an area such as this.

Ryan Miller

Sources: Maps of World, Investopedia
Photo: Action Aid

 

Rebellion_Central_African_Republic
In December of 2012 a rebellion group formed under the name ‘Seleka’ marched through the Central African Republic, threatening to overthrow President François Bozizé for failing to follow through with the promises he made in 2007. Since then their reign has been one of terror and abduction, forcing people who are already living in the throes of poverty to adopt a life of fear and anticipation as well. Bozize has since been chased out of the country and the people of the Central African Republic are too afraid to take action against Seleka.

Translated the word Seleka simply means “coalition” in Sango. In January the group was estimated to have between 1,000 and 3,000 members. It is thought that they are made up of a collection of smaller groups allied together in opposition of the former president. However, government officials believe that the core of Seleka may be made up of a more varied cast of people, suggesting that the are harboring foreigners who wish to take control of the country’s mineral wealth. Some even believe that nationals from Chad, Nigeria, and Sudan are involved.

On March 24, 2013 Michel Djotodia marched into the capital Bangui with 5,000 Seleka fighters to seize control of the country. He immediately disbanded the parliament and suspended the constitution. And since then he and the Seleka fighters have waged a campaign of harassment and terror against the very people they claimed to protect. Unemployment has soared to 70% and the rebels take whatever they want, including computers used for education, solar panels, and even goats. Schools have shut down and electricity has become unavailable to the public.

Now the rebel group is no longer simply stealing from the people they claim to help, they are stealing the people as well. On a daily basis people disappear from their homes, schools, and the street itself. They are picked up by men in trucks and never seen again. If they are, they have been tortured or killed. The economy has collapsed entirely, most people are out of work, international aid workers have fled, and farmers are unable to tend to their fields because of all the violence. The country is on the verge of absolute disaster.

The self-proclaimed president of the country seems to be either unaware or uncaring of the reality of the situation. He is quoted in the New York Times as stating, “Peace has already returned to Bangui. When we came, it was like a miracle. It was God that willed it.” But the reality is that 173,000 people have been displaced from their homes since December. The Central African Republic has always been one of the poorest countries in the world and frequently fraught with conflict.

– Chelsea Evans

Sources: CNN, BBC, USA Today, New York Times
Photo: BBC

Central_African_Republic_takeover
The Central African Republic (CAR) has been plagued by a humanitarian crisis since the ouster of former President Francois Bozize by the rebel group Seleka. Since the former government was deposed in March of this year, CAR has fallen into a downward spiral of political instability. Seleka leader Michel Djotodia has indicated that elections will be held after an 18-month transition period during which he will remain in power. Yet only 4 months after the rebel takeover, CAR is already seeing the dire effects of its deteriorating security situation, particularly in the withdrawal of most aid organizations from the country.

Several UN agencies and multiple NGOs have pulled out of the Seleka-ruled CAR due to “lack of security.” Among them are UN agencies and organizations that had provided the aid which much of the population depended on for survival. According to data from 2011, 62% of the population of CAR was in poverty, and only half of its rural population had access to an “improved water source.” In such a state of poverty, and with such a shaky political standing, CAR is facing a grave crisis.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), an international organization also known as Doctors Without Borders, released a report in July explaining the grim reality faced by the citizens of CAR. Malaria cases, for example, have shot up since the Seleka takeover, with 33 percent more cases now than this time last year. Malnutrition and preventable disease have also become considerably more pronounced in recent months. MSF urges international agencies and organizations, from the United Nations to the European Union and African Union, to support CAR with funding and aid.

This week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a statement calling on the UN Security Council to take steps towards bringing stability to CAR. The country, he says, is suffering “a total breakdown of law and order.” The Security Council has not released a statement yet.

Lina Saud

Sources: The World Bank, BBC, Medecins Sans Frontieres
Photo: New York Times