CAR faces food crisis as borders remain closed

ICRC has warned that the CAR could soon experience serious food shortages.

CAR faces food crisis as borders remain closed

World Bulletin / News Desk

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has warned that the Central African Republic (CAR) could soon experience serious food shortages after the majority of residents fled their land and homes seeking refuge from the attacks.

"People aren't cultivating their farms anymore. They have all fled into the bush or to religious centers, running away from the ruthless militants," ICRC spokesperson Nadia Debsy told Anadolu Agency by phone from CAR.

"A food crisis will certainly occur in this country if order isn't restored soon," she asserted.

The mineral-rich central African nation has descended into chaos since Seleka rebels – from the mostly-Muslim north – ousted President François Bozize in March. Bozize, a Christian who had held the office for ten years, had enjoyed the support of the country's Christian majority.

The months since have witnessed a series of clashes between Seleka fighters and Christian self-defense "anti-balaka" militias that have recently emerged.

The militant groups are accused of killing civilians based on their religious affiliations.

The UN estimates that the latest violence has forced more than 400,000 people – nearly ten percent of the country's 4.6 million-strong population – to abandon their homes.

Thousands are now taking refuge in the bush or in religious centers, schools or hospitals across the country.

Fred Gopiadou, a travel agent based in CAR capital Bangui, expressed fear that, if the borders remained closed, many people could suffer food shortages since most had not cultivated their land due to the ongoing conflict.

"I foresee a big problem if the French continue to close the borders and restrict flights into the capital," he told AA by phone.

"We're a landlocked country that depends heavily on imported goods."

Several airline passengers travelling to CAR from Cameroon were recently left stranded after French troops instructed airlines to halt all flights until Tuesday.

Epouse Ali, commissioner in charge at Douala Airport, told AA that French had also closed the border crossing between Cameroon and CAR in the town of Toktoyo, located in Cameroon's East Region.

"I believe the border closure is just temporary," East Region Governor Ivaha Dieudonne told AA. "Hopefully, it will be reopened by next week."

Challenge

Debsy said the ICRC had been trying its best to offer medical assistance to thousands of displaced people, especially pregnant women and children.

"It's a challenge to work here in CAR," she said. "What I see makes me feel very sad."

Gopiadou, the travel agent, claimed that rebels had attacked a hospital in the capital and killed a number of injured patients.

"What these militants are doing is very terrifying," he said. "They raided Amitie Hospital in Bangui on Friday and identified some patients whom they believed were from the Christian anti-Balaka group and shot them dead."

He added that patients, fearing for their lives, had since fled the hospital.

The claims could not be independently verified and no spokesmen – either from the government or the rebels – were immediately available for comment.

Bangui hotel proprietor Mohamed Nuhu, for his part, said the situation in the capital had improved with the arrival of French military reinforcements.

"French troops have been patrolling the city since Saturday," he told AA by phone. "I hope normalcy will return soon."

Last week, the UN Security Council passed a resolution authorizing France to send troops to the troubled country with the stated aim of protecting civilians.

France, CAR's former colonizer, has since sent hundreds of troops to reinforce a 410-man French contingent stationed there earlier.

The country also hosts a 2,500-strong African Union peacekeeping force, which will soon be increased to 3,600 troops.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 09 Aralık 2013, 11:29
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