Central Africans hit hard by malnutrition, UN relief officials warn

24 November 2008

More than one in every 10 Central Africans in their country’s northwest is acutely malnourished, the United Nations humanitarian wing reported today as it called on international donors to support more than 100 separate projects that aim to tackle conflict, disease and malnutrition in the impoverished and strife-torn nation.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said a nutritional survey carried out in the northwest of the Central African Republic (CAR) found that 11.5 per cent of the population in the region has some sort of acute malnutrition. The mortality rate for children under the age of five is also now 2.7 deaths per 10,000 children.

A therapeutic feeding centre in the town of Bossangoa, the capital of Ouham prefecture, has treated at least 487 children for severe acute malnutrition this year, OCHA added.

The CAR, one of the world’s poorest countries, continues to be plagued by humanitarian suffering, in part because of persistent unrest in the north. Rebels and bandits have also targeted civilians in many of their attacks, displacing tens of thousands of people.

A UN report released last month also found that Government defence and security forces have committed mounting human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture and arbitrary arrests.

In a bid to combat the fighting and suffering, the UN set up a multi-dimensional presence in northern CAR and eastern Chad last year (known as MINURCAT).

Last week the UN launched its annual appeal under the Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) to help people in need worldwide, and the global total includes more than $116 million for 105 projects in the CAR. Those schemes aim to provide aid to 1 million Central Africans in need of assistance.


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