The UN World Food Programme (WFP) warned on Tuesday that a substantial rise in the cost of basic items in the Central African Republic (CAR) connected to the conflict in Ukraine will likely have a devastating effect on the already severe humanitarian situation there in the coming weeks.
In the Central African Republic, 2.2 million people already experience severe food insecurity, so Tomson Phiri, a WFP spokesperson, warned that the global food, fuel, and fertiliser crisis brought on by Russia’s invasion of its neighbour on February 24 will put basic food commodities and staples “out of reach of many people.”
“The figure may not shock you out of your seats, but when you look at the population size, that’s nearly half the population of the Central African Republic,” he told journalists in Geneva.
To help, the UN agency needs $68.4 million urgently.
“Without immediate funding, food and nutrition insecurity will only increase for millions of people,” Mr. Phiri warned, adding that a sharp increase in commodity prices is only weeks away.
“We expect a 30 per cent increase in rice, a 67 per cent increase for the price of wheat flour and a staggering 70 per cent increase in the price of vegetable oil.”
As bad as it gets
In terms of the proportion of its population experiencing acute food insecurity, the CAR is comparable to Yemen, South Sudan, and Afghanistan.
Its issues are a result of a protracted internal armed conflict that began in 2012 and has killed thousands of people, caused massive displacement, and made two out of every three civilians dependent on humanitarian aid, all while fighting between the primarily Muslim Séléka rebel coalition and the mostly Christian anti-Balaka militia.
Valentine Rugwabiza, the top UN representative in the nation, recently informed the Security Council that gruesome attacks on people had increased while efforts to envision a peaceful future for the nation had devolved into a condition of “de facto lethargy.”
The Central African Republic’s adoption of its Joint Road Map for Peace in October 2021, which represented an effort to put into effect a 2019 peace agreement known as the Khartoum Accord signed between the Government and 14 non-State armed groups, was the topic of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Central African Republic.
A “progressive deterioration” of livelihoods and food security has also been attributed to structural issues, such as rapid population increase, widespread poverty, unemployment, and the depletion of natural resources.
Although the country frequently has fuel shortages between May and July, which coincide with the start of the rainy season, this year, CAR began running out of petrol before the middle of March. The UN agency cautioned in a statement that the effects on local residents and its aid efforts would likely be substantial and result in “an early hunger gap.”
“At the back of our minds as well, is the impact that fuel – which is out of reach – high transport costs, is having on our own operations,” said Mr. Phiri. “Now, because we are struggling as well as an agency, what that means is that our teams on the ground are making last-ditch efforts to preposition food into deficit areas. Now, prepositioning is when we move food in advance of the lean season and the rainy season which cuts access to nearly half the country.”