Trucks carrying WFP food arrive in CAR capital: UN spokesman

UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 29 (PNA/Xinhua) — Ten trucks carrying 250 metric tons of rice and maize meal provided by the UN World Food Program (WFP) arrived in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR) on Monday, after a 600-kilometer journey from the Cameroon border, a UN spokesman told reporters here on Tuesday.

“The trucks were part of a 60-vehicle convoy escorted by troops from the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA),” said Farhan Haq, UN acting deputy spokesperson, at the daily briefing.

He noted that, according to the UN food agency, the convoy was slowed by frequent improvised checkpoints set up by armed groups.

“WFP welcomed the cooperation between MISCA, officials from Cameroon and the CAR that made the road journey possible but warned that securing the country’s roads is crucial to provide a food lifeline to growing numbers of displaced people,” Haq said.

The spokesman also quoted WFP as saying that more escorts will be needed in the weeks ahead, as the food that arrived on Monday represents only five percent of the cereals needed to provide assistance across the country for one month.

“Another 41 commercial trucks carrying WFP cereals are still stranded at the Cameroonian border, along with hundreds of other vehicles,” he said. “WFP is working to unblock the situation at the border.”

The Central African Republic ranks among the world’s poorest countries and has been embroiled in a decade-long armed conflict.

The surge of violence in December 2013 exacerbated its situation and today half of the 4.6-million-strong population is in need of immediate aid. Almost a million people have been internally displaced, half of them in the capital Bangui alone.

More than 245,000 Central Africans have sought refuge in neighboring countries. (PNA/Xinhua)