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Dire situation facing Central African Republic, alarming levels of malnutrition

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The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said today it's facing a dire humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic. With only 32 percent of the funds it needs, WFP says it "will be unable to scale-up ahead of the planting and rainy seasons, or to respond in newly secured areas."

Around US $35 million in funding is urgently needed to cover at least three months of aid.

WFP, in a report released today, said that levels of malnutrition are high even among adults. The special food Plumpy'Sup is being provided to infants as well as adults in Bangui because the malnutrition is that severe. In Bouar food distributions also include Plumpy'Sup for children under 5 years of age.

In the western part of the country, thousands of civilians are surrounded by armed groups. Reaching them is a major challenge amid the threat of attack. With low funding, WFP may not even be able to respond should the opportunity arise.

The UN food agency relies entirely on voluntary donations. Not nearly enough have come in for the hunger relief mission in the war-torn country.

The conflict in the Central African Republic has caused large-scale internal displacement. Civilians are also fleeing to Chad and other countries in the region. WFP is scaling up operations in those countries. Denise Brown, WFP’s West Africa Regional Director, says:

"We are facing a regional crisis, that goes well beyond the borders of the Central African Republic. These people – most of them women and children – have seen their homes burned and witnessed unspeakable violence and had no choice but to leave. They desperately need food and nutritional assistance and other support both inside CAR and in neighbouring countries. They need it now and they should not have to wait."

What is also alarming is the damage sustained to livelihoods which will limit the ability of farmers to plant crops and for markets to function. The hunger situation could get much worse in the Central African Republic unless funding is received.

WFP has set up a relief fund for the Central African Republic.

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