CAR

CAR: WFP receives US $1 million for the displaced

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BANGUI, 24 March (IRIN) - The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has received US $1 million from multilateral donors to buy food for thousands of internally displaced people and vulnerable groups in the troubled Central African Republic (CAR), David Bulman, the WFP representative in the CAR, told IRIN on Saturday.
"It is part of a US $6.6 million project for an overall tonnage of 8,816 mt," he said.

WFP, he said, already had $500,000 for the project. He said the funds would now enable WFP to buy 1,200 mt of food from Cameroon and other countries. He said 1,700 mt of food was stored in the Cameroonian seaport of Douala.

"We will borrow from other projects while waiting for the road from Cameroon to be reopened," he said.

Meanwhile, following WFP appeals on the government-owned Radio Centrafrique and the UN-Fondation Hirondelle-sponsored Radio Ndeke Luka, Bangui residents have begun to return food looted from WFP's warehouses after the 15 March coup.

A WFP official supervising the return of the stolen food said that the Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States forces and the CAR forces took more than 15 sacks of 25kg each, out of the 1,800 mt of food looted from the WFP warehouses on 15 and 16 March.

In an advertisement broadcast several times on the two radios, Bulman warned Bangui residents against "the very noxious" insecticides that were among the stolen goods.

He told IRIN on Saturday that some people had started returning the insecticides which, he said, if inhaled or swallowed can cause death. No insecticide-related deaths have been reported.

"Our priority remains the war-torn countryside," Bulman said.

Since 25 October 2002, when supporters of coup leader Francois Bozize first tried to overthrow president Ange-Felix Patasse until the capture of Bangui by Bozize's men on 15 March, the CAR had been divided into three parts: the government-controlled south, the rebel-controlled north, and the east, controlled by the government but inaccessible as it was behind rebel lines. The north and the east had been isolated from the capital, Bangui, and had not received food or medical aid.

WFP reported on 12 March that some 231,000 people had left their homes as a result of the war in the CAR. About 105,000 of them had fled from the former rebel zones in the north to former government-held areas in the south; 26,000 were refugees in southern Chad, and more than 100,000 were still hiding in the bush in the north.

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