UN seeks urgent action on CAR food crisis

United Nations, March 20 (IANS/WAM) A senior UN relief official has stressed the need to act quickly to assist people suffering from food insecurity and malnutrition in the strife-torn Central African Republic (CAR).

“Today I heard harrowing stories from ordinary women and children of losing their families in the violence and traumatic attacks that forced them to flee,” Ertharin Cousin, executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP), was Thursday quoted as saying after witnessing the alarming situation first-hand during a visit to the north-western town of Bossangoa in CAR.

“I am humbled by their strength in these desperate times. We simply cannot deny them the assistance they need, especially after all they have endured,” she added.

Thousands of people are believed to have been killed, and 2.2 million, or about half the population of CAR, need humanitarian aid as a result of the civil conflict that began in December 2012.

“The entire population, not only the displaced, is affected and live in a precarious food situation,” Cousin said.

“The people of CAR, particularly women and children, need us now. We must act before the rains exacerbate the tragic situation.

“We must not wait until pictures of skeletal, severely underweight children document our failure and neglect,” she stated.

The executive director also took part in a joint seeds and food distribution programme with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).