Central African Republic: WFP resumes food distribution to May 2001 coup victims

BANGUI, 9 January (IRIN) - The World Food Programme (WFP) in the Central African Republic has resumed food distribution in the southern suburbs of the capital, Bangui, to 84,000 victims of a coup attempt in 2001, according to the agency's programme officer.
WFP suspended distributions in the area on 26 December 2002 after its employees received verbal and physical threats from discontented people whose names were not on the food distribution lists.

"We received threats from armed civilians who claimed to belong to a self-defence group and who wanted food at all cost," Albert Bango-Makoudou, the WFP programme officer, told IRIN on Tuesday.

He said that during one distribution, conducted in Bangui's second district, youngsters detained the WFP logistics officer, who subsequently had to be freed by the UN security team.

With a view to resolving the situation, the WFP and the Femmes croyantes mediatrices de la paix, a local Christian women's NGO that distributes WFP food in southern Bangui, convened a meeting on 3 January with leaders of Bangui's sixth district.

"We held this meeting to ask them to brief their people about the objective of the [food distribution] project and on how the census of the beneficiaries was carried out," Bango-Makoudou said.

In total, 1,700 families - that is about 5,000 people - then received their one-month rations, composed of maize flour, beans, corn-soya blend flour, salt and vegetable oil. Only women were allowed to represent their families at the distribution site. "No incident was reported today. We think that the message was understood," Bango-Makoudou! said.

He said the effort had initially targeted 55,000 of the most needy people, whose living conditions had been severely affected by the 28 May 2001 coup attempt, allegedly mounted by former President Andre Kolingba.

"We redefined the goal of the project as we took into account those who came back [from exile] and the neediest and priority groups," Albert Bango-Makoudou told IRIN on Thursday.


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