CENTRAL AFRICA

CAMEROON (15 October)

Rainfall was widespread and abundant during the months of August and September, except in the extreme south-west where precipitation remained limited but resumed in early October. Millet and sorghum are being harvested in the north. In the west and the centre the second maize crop is developing satisfactorily.

The cereal import requirement for 1996/97 (July/June) is estimated at 325 000 tons, mostly wheat and rice.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (15 October)

Rainfall was widespread and abundant in August and September over the entire country. Millet and sorghum are being harvested while rice and the second maize crop are growing satisfactorily.

For the 1996/97 marketing year (September/August), the cereal import requirement is estimated at 34 000 tons, mainly wheat and rice. There are 27 000 assisted Sudanese refugees in the country. Approximately 5 000 Chadians also receive food assistance.

CONGO (15 October)

Following dry conditions in July, precipitation increased and moved southwards in August and September. Rains became abundant in the north and light in the centre while dry conditions continue to prevail in the south-west in early October. The main maize crop is being planted, following the onset of rains.

The overall food supply situation is satisfactory. Staple foodcrops are roots, tubers and plantains and markets are well supplied with these crops. Cereal production is estimated at some 27 000 tons, mainly maize. For the 1996/97 marketing year (July/June), the cereal import requirement is estimated at 98 000 tons, mostly wheat, including a structural food aid requirement of 2 000 tons.

EQUATORIAL GUINEA (16 October)

Following dry conditions in July and August, rains started and remained widespread in September and early October. The staple foodcrops are sweet potatoes, cassava and plantains and the country annually imports some 11 000 tons of wheat and rice, half of which is in the form of food aid.

GABON (16 October)

Dry conditions prevailed from mid June to mid-August. Rains started in late August in the extreme north and in September over the north and the east. They became abundant in early October except in the south-west. The main maize crop is being planted. The staple foodcrops are cassava and plantains. Production of cereals in 1996, mainly maize is estimated at around 25 000 tons. The country needs to import the bulk of its wheat and rice requirement which is estimated at 62 000 tons. No food aid is necessary.

ZAIRE* (4 November)

Precipitation was abundant over the north in early August while dry condition prevailed in the center and the south. Rains moved southwards during the two last dekads of August and in September, reaching the southern regions in early October. The main maize crop is being harvested in the north, and planted in the south following the onset of rains. Rice is maturing in the north and sorghum is being harvested.

The security situation has deteriorated sharply in the politically volatile eastern region of Kivu and threaten to destabilize the whole Great Lakes Region. Heavy fighting between the Zairean army and local population in late October, spread from South Kivu, near the border with Burundi, to North Kivu and the region of Goma bordering Rwanda. The intensified fighting has resulted in the closure of the road between Uvira and Bukavu towns and in fresh waves of population displacements, of both refugees and local population. Provisional estimates indicate that some 12 camps of Rwandan and Burundian refugees in the region were emptied. UNHCR estimates that there are currently about 1 million refugees and displaced persons in Kivu, moving to the surroundings areas and crossing the borders into Rwanda and Burundi.

About 80 000 people, mainly Rwandan refugees fled from Uvira camps, 53 000 Rwandan refugees fled from southern Bukavu and 55 000 local Zairean people are being displaced from their homes. In the Goma area, about 200 000 refugees and displaced persons fled after Kibumba camp was attacked and about 400 000 people are now refugees in Mugunga camp.

International humanitarian workers have been evacuated from Uvira and food aid deliveries to refugee camps are hampered by tight security conditions and closed roads. Therefore, the food supply situation may become extremely precarious in the coming weeks.