Senior UN relief officials call for crisis funding for Central African Republic

Humanitarian crisis in CAR. (Photo - Goran Tomasevic, Reuters)

4 June 2014 - Thousands of women and children fleeing the Central African Republic (CAR) for Cameroon arrive in a “shocking state”, malnourished and dangerously ill, the heads of two United Nations humanitarian agencies said today, warning that their funds are nearly exhausted and that hundreds of thousands of people could die unless urgent contributions are received.

Aware of terrible situation, Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) Ertharin Cousin and UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres are not just ensuring safe haven but actually trying to save people’s lives after they arrive. “We must all act now or more children will needlessly suffer. We must intervene to save lives and prevent a worsening situation,” Guterres and Cousin said.

According to WFP, between 20 and 30 percent of the arriving refugees are acutely malnourished. The agency has launched an emergency operation to feed 100,000 people and is seeking $15.6 million over eight months. Its plan to feed people who fled CAR to its four surrounding countries has an average shortfall of 70 per cent or more. Meanwhile, UNHCR has requested $22.6 million for its programmes, of which only $4.2 million have so far been received.

Refugees from CAR are arriving in Cameroon at a rate of up to 2,000 people per week, the majority of them women and children. Many of the refugees walked for weeks, even months, through the treacherous bush to reach Cameroon. UNHCR has dubbed it “a journey of starvation and death.”

Source: UN News Centre (prepared by: Mateja Robnik)