VOICES FROM THE FIELDTHE IRC BLOG
Central African Republic: Food crisis looms in coup’s aftermath
April 9, 2013 by Kate Sands Adams
|Already one of the world’s poorest countries, the Central African Republic is on the brink of a hunger crisis as looters ransack food supplies in the wake of last month's coup. Photo: Christopher Scott/IRC|
Looters are creating chaos in the Central African Republic (CAR) following a coup last month that forced President Francoise Bozize out of office.
As rebel commander Michel Djotodia starts to form a transition government in the capital city, Bangui, the country is on the brink of a hunger crisis.
“There is huge food insecurity,” warns International Rescue Committee country director Sarah Terlouw. “After the latest harvest, people were stockpiling food reserves and keeping seeds to plant the next year. Those supplies were looted.”
Aid warehouses containing seeds, farming tools and other supplies were also ransacked, as were several IRC facilities. The IRC and other humanitarian organizations have been forced to temporarily halt our programs while the security situation remains volatile.
In a country that is already one of the world’s poorest, the crisis will take a terrible toll on health and nutrition over the long term, Terlouw says.
Hospitals and health centers in the capital and countryside have been stripped of their ability to care for patients. “They don’t have medicines, they don’t have mosquito nets, they don’t have mattresses,” she explains. “Looters took anything they could get their hands on.”
Doctors and nurses fled during the fighting. Like teachers and other professionals seen as having ties to the former regime, they were targets of attacks.
While some have been able to return as the initial waves of violence subside, Terlouw says, everyone is living with uncertainty.
“Is it going to get better, or is it going to get worse? No one knows”
Updated Apr. 10, 2013
The IRC in Central African Republic
The IRC has worked in CAR since 2006 and supports improvements to schools and health services, agricultural assistance, training in job skills and small business development and assistance for victims of sexual violence. The country of approximately 5 million people is struggling to emerge from close to a decade of political unrest. Learn more about the IRC’s work in CAR.>>
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