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August 24, 2010

UN Short on Funds to Feed 600,000 in CAR

The United Nations World Food Program says tens of thousands of people in Central African Republic face malnutrition if the WFP cannot secure urgent funding.

In Central African Republic, the United Nations World Food Program says it needs an additional $15 million in funding over the next eight months to continue feeding 600,000 people there.

The World Food Program said an influx of refugees from Democratic Republic of Congo late last year strained its resources in CAR. Without additional funding, the WFP says it could run out of food in November.

WFP Country Director Sitta Kai-Kai says this drop in food aid will endanger some of the most vulnerable populations.

"We feed up to 600,000 people in different categories from people living with HIV/AIDS to refugees to displaced persons to pregnant and lactating women and also children under the age of five," said Sitta Kai-Kai. "We also have a school feeding program. It is the only program where children of school-going age in primary schools have one meal a day, sometimes two, depending on our funding."

Kai Kai said without additional funding by October, when schools reopen, school attendance will decline and rations will be reduced for the 150,000 students receiving school meals.

She said the impact will be felt at nutrition centers as well, as rations will have to be cut for some 17,000 already acutely malnourished children and 15,000 pregnant and nursing women.

It can take up to five months for food to reach the landlocked country, and Kai Kai said the WFP needs $6.6 million by September to make it to the end of this year in CAR.

"Six-point-six million will help us a great deal," she said. "That will permit us to borrow food immediately from other countries in the subregion and also buy food locally."

If additional funding is not received within the next two months, Kai Kai said the World Food Program would have to reduce assistance for 100,000 internally displaced people and refugees, primarily from Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. She said food assistance for others would have to be suspended entirely.