News / Africa

Food Aid Distribution Difficult in CAR

A Christian youth squats inside a burnt-out car in Bangui, Dec. 10, 2013.
A Christian youth squats inside a burnt-out car in Bangui, Dec. 10, 2013.

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
The World Food Program says it will scale-up its emergency operations in Central African Republic to provide aid to more than one-million people over the next six months. However, in the meantime, the U.N. agency is trying to cope with growing insecurity, especially in the capital, Bangui.


Most of the fighting in CAR is between former Seleka rebels, who are Muslim, and Christian defense forces known as anti-Balaka. 

WFP spokesman Peter Smerdon gave an overview of the agency’s humanitarian operations in the country.

“We are reaching out to the most vulnerable wherever we find them. We’ve distributed food in places to individual groups of people as small as 50. We’re distributing wherever we can – hospitals, orphanages, churches and mosques. And overall, since fighting intensified on December 5th, we’ve reached about 200,000 people in the Central African Republic. But it is a very difficult place to do humanitarian work. And there is a huge need because of this violence.”

While the World Food Program has reached about 200,000 people, Smerdon said many, many more need help.

“There are certainly hundreds of thousands of people who are displaced around the country and need assistance. The population in need of overall humanitarian assistance – rather than just food – has grown from 1.6 million in October to 2.4 million, which basically is 52 percent – more than half of the total population in the Central African Republic. So, we’re talking very large numbers, especially given the size of the country,” he said.

Right now, food distribution in Bangui is sporadic due to the violence.

Smerdon said, “We are doing some distributions in Bangui when we can. There are particular hot spots, especially the area just outside the airport at Bangui. And we’ve done distributions to some 40,000 people, who were there. But because of recurring security problems, we’ve had to suspend those for the time being. And we’re looking into how we can reach at least the last 14,000 of the 40,000, who we have not given food to. To provide food on a more regular basis.”

But Smerdon added distributing food outside the airport is dangerous work.

“Large mobs, including men armed with machetes, have rushed the food distributions in places – stolen a relatively small amount of food. That insecurity, both for our staff and for the people we’re trying to help, means we have to slow down the distributions near Bangui airport and focus on other areas while we work out what we can do for the people stuck there,” he said.

While some food aid has been flown in, the WFP already had some stocks in place in the country.

Outside the capital, in Bossangoa, Smerdon said the situation is relatively calm compared to the deteriorating conditions in the capital. The WFP has provided a month’s worth of food rations there for about 41,000 people. Almost all of them have been have been displaced by fighting.

  • French soldiers stand guard at a checkpoint in Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 22, 2013. Idriss Fall/VOA
  • A French solider with his machine gun at a checkpoint in Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 22, 2013. Idriss Fall/VOA
  • French soldiers stand guard at a checkpoint in Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 22, 2013. Idriss Fall/VOA
  • French soldiers at a checkpoint in Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 22, 2013. Idriss Fall/VOA
  • French soldiers stand ready at a checkpoint in Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 22, 2013. Idriss Fall/VOA
  • French soldiers atop a tank at a checkpoint, Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 22, 2013. Idriss Fall/VOA
  • French soldiers checking passenger cars at a checkpoint in Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 22, 2013. Idriss Fall/VOA
  • French soldiers at a checkpoint in Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 22, 2013. Idriss Fall/VOA

You May Like

As AIDS Epidemic Matures, Workplaces Adapt

Issue of AIDS in workplace is one of many social issues being discussed at the 20th International Aids Conference in Australia More

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid