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Food security fears rise as attacks increase

Two members of the LRA, Rikwangba, Sudan, April 2007.

A rise in armed incursions is restricting people’s movements, reducing their ability to farm and increasing food security concerns in the Haut-Mbomou and Mbomou regions in the southeast Central African Republic (CAR), says an international humanitarian agency.

“There is plenty of fertile land in the region but violence is interfering with traditional ways of life such as agriculture, hunting and fishing, with farmers often afraid to stray far from town to work their fields for fear of attack. This has reduced production, pushing up prices to the point at which not everyone can afford to buy food, even when it's available,” said Christa Utiger, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) economic security coordinator for the CAR.

The ICRC reported on 11 November that regular attacks by armed groups had resulted in the doubling of the populations of Obo, Mboki, Rafai and Zemio in Haut-Mbomou and Mbomou, near the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sudan borders, as civilians sought safety.

“While the increase in population drove up demand for food, over-used fields lost productivity, making produce scarce and expensive. Some food is certainly still being produced in the region but the violence has made farmers unwilling to stay far from the towns to tend their fields, making food security more and more fragile,” the ICRC told IRIN.

According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), 20,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 6,000 Congolese refugees fled to the towns in the past 12 months.

The ICRC will distribute food to about 55,000 people there until mid-December. “We are planning to distribute seeds to affected communities in advance of the spring 2011 sowing season, with a view to ensuring reasonable harvests in the autumn. The aim is to make communities self-sufficient and alleviate pressures facing communities as a result of armed group presence in eastern CAR,” said ICRC.

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), rebels with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) have killed at least 2,385 civilians and abducted another 3,054 since September 2008 in the Central African Republic.

“With the LRA attacking villages in remote areas with limited communications, roads, and other infrastructure, the actual number of victims is probably far higher,” HRW said in a statement.

Chronic poverty, violence by local armed groups or the LRA, lack of public health, education and infrastructure have resulted in 16 percent of children under five being acutely malnourished, while 6.6 percent are severely acutely malnourished, according to the UN Children’s Fund. The country has an estimated population of 4.4 million.


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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