Over the past couple of weeks, emergency funding appeals by the heads of United Nations food and refuge agencies have been consistently headlining humanitarian briefings and conferences. The most recent report coming from the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) said that their emergency operation in the Central African Republic (CAR) and surrounding regions have only received two contributions and has a projected shortfall of 90 percent.
Elisabeth Byrs, spokesperson for the WFP, said, “The immediate priority across host countries is to address the acute needs of these refugees, and to plan for the rainy season, which will create conditions for the outbreak of disease and challenge overland delivery.” She also said that about $15 million is needed to cover urgent funding through December.
This aid is especially necessary considering that the CAR has more than half a million internally displaced persons and 120,000 refugees living in neighboring countries. According to the WFP, one refugee site in nearby Gbiti, Cameroon has found that 31 percent of new arrivals are acutely malnourished, and another 11 percent are suffering from severe acute malnutrition. Other nearby refugee camps are doing just as poorly as the one in Gbiti.
Up to 2,000 people per week cross the border into Cameroon through more than 30 points of entry, further increasing the number of refugees and putting a greater strain on already existing resources. According to the International Organization for Migration, the percentage of internally displaced persons has increased from 4.6 in March to 9 in April to 11 in its most recent study released this past May.
The dire situation in the CAR is only compounded by the lack of food aid being delivered to the area. Despite a concerted effort by the WFP, its attempts to help distribute food throughout the CAR have been constantly interrupted by fighting.
The condition is anticipated to get even worse during the upcoming wet season, when crops struggle and there is an increase in the chances of diseases being contracted. As of right now, children are more likely to die from malnutrition than from bullets. The CAR’s only pediatric hospital has seen a 62 percent increase in the past year in the number of children treated for malnutrition.
Despite these frightening statistics, the WFP has managed to get food to approximately 63,000 people in May, as 30,000 people in transit sites have been given 30-day rations and another 30,000 CAR refugees received similar rations. But without the funding it needs, the WFP could easily run out of rations that have kept many people alive.
– Andre Gobbo