CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (28 February)
In late October, fighting broke out in Bangui between government and rebel troops. Since then, the rebels took control of the North and the Centre and the east was isolated from the rest of the country. People have been fleeing from these zones into the bush, making for Bangui, or southern Chad. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Bangui reported in January that about 10 000 people, including at least 1 300 Central African Republic nationals had fled to southern Chad. The humanitarian situation was aggravated by a Government offensive in mid-February, resulting in further population displacement, and a change in the areas under rebel control, though the details are still not clear.
Due to insecurity in rebel-controlled zones, WFP remains unable to reach over 5 000 IDPs targeted in the framework of an Emergency Operation. By contrast, the relatively stable security situation in the southern part of Bangui allowed WFP to resume food distributions. In southern neighbourhoods of Bangui, over 44 000 vulnerable people affected by armed conflict have received 226 tonnes of food during the month of January, while 766 tonnes of food were distributed to about 830 500 people in December.
The food security situation has deteriorated significantly. Widespread destruction and looting, combined with non-availability of planting seeds and population displacement, means that preparations for the approaching agricultural season will be much worse than normal.
Providing the caseload does not increase, WFP has only enough food to assist the most vulnerable among the displaced population until the end of the year 2003. It has already stopped all rehabilitation programmes in order to focus on emergency assistance for the population affected by the on-going civil unrest.