YAOUNDE – Ertharin Cousin, the Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), said today that the exodus of approximately 296,000 people from the Central African Republic (CAR) into neighbouring Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Republic of Congo, is creating a regional crisis in countries that were already short of food.
“While we need the international community urgently to step up and address the disaster in CAR, international support is also required for the regional refugee crisis. We must ensure that those who survived the killings in CAR won’t fall victim to malnutrition and disease in exile,” said Cousin in Cameroon today, after a visit to CAR where she met people forced to flee their homes.
In order to ensure their ability to provide food and other necessary assistance for the refugees until they can return to their homes, humanitarians, including WFP, require more financial support from the international community.
The countries hosting the CAR refugees are themselves confronted with food insecurity and pockets of malnutrition. The influx of refugees significantly increases pressure on the host communities and governments, as well as on WFP operations which are severely underfunded. Without new contributions, WFP cannot continue providing life-saving assistance and nutritional support to the refugees.
Donors have generously provided more than US$37 million towards WFP’s emergency response in CAR, however the agency still requires nearly US$70 million to carry out operations there up to the end of August, while in neighbouring countries WFP’s operations require a total of more than US$17 million to provide food assistance to the refugees.
When they arrive, those who escape to Cameroon and the neighbouring countries are traumatized, exhausted, hungry and often in poor health. More refugees are arriving every day. Despite this fact, the neighbouring countries including Cameroon continue to keep their borders open.
“I offer deep appreciation to the government of Cameroon for providing full support to WFP and its UN partners. We appreciate the generous assistance provided to the CAR refugees. We must also acknowledge the support provided by the government in facilitating the vital supply line from Douala into CAR,” Cousin added.