It’s estimated as many as 150-thousand people are hiding in the bush in the northwestern part of Central African Republic as a result of violence. The World Food Program describes the people as “traumatized and desperate.”
Marcus Prior is a spokesperson for the WFP and is currently in the Chadian capital of N’djamena. He spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about his recent experiences in the CAR.
“I recently traveled with colleagues from the World Food Program up to the northwestern part of Central African Republic, where we know that there have been humanitarian needs for some time due to generalized insecurity in the area. I was extremely struck by what I saw. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a population more terrified. Every time our cars came within audio distance of villages people simply fled into the bush. They were terrified we might be armed men coming to cause problems,” he says.
The only food they had was what could be found growing wild in the bush.
Prior says the villagers are “without running water. Their children are not going to school, people often falling ill. Common illnesses, including respiratory infections, malaria, diarrhea, all very present.”
The CAR relies on the region for much of the country’s food production. Prior says, “It was and in many ways is still considered the breadbasket of the Central African Republic. It’s a very fertile area. But for some time now people have found it very difficult to work their fields properly, simply because they are constantly on the alert for armed forces encroaching on their settlements.”
As a result, prices for staple foodstuffs in the capital Bangui have “increased significantly,” according to Prior.