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Geneva regular press briefing by the Information Service: DR Congo, Iraq, CAR

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Extracts from the 11 March 2003 REGULAR PRESS BRIEFING BY THE INFORMATION SERVICE
A Spokesperson for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that she wanted to go back with journalists to what had happened in Bunia in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 6 March when it had been taken over by the Uganda People's Defense Forces. OCHA had been afraid for its personnel in the Bunia office. However, calm had returned to the city over the weekend. There was hope as it was now possible for humanitarian workers to get access into Bunia after several years of interruptions. The humanitarian community would be sending in evaluation missions to assess the security situation and the condition of the population.

Asked about the status of funds which OCHA had asked for concerning a possible conflict in Iraq, the OCHA Spokesperson recalled that on 13 December, OCHA had asked for $ 37.4 million. On 18 February, OCHA had issued a revised appeal for $ 123.5 million. So far, OCHA had received roughly $ 40 million.

(...)

The WFP Spokesperson said that concerning the Central African Republic, this was probably the most silent crisis in the world, with the drama of its civil war unfolding in front of total indifference. WFP was very concerned at the humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic. The fighting, which had going on since 25 October, had devastated the poor and vulnerable. The agricultural sector was particularly suffering from the insecurity as the farmers had not been able to work in the fields. WFP was especially worried about 1.2 million persons in the north of the country which was controlled by the armed rebels. Humanitarian agencies had had no access to them since last October. WFP needed $ 6.1 million to distribute 8.2 million tons of food in the Central African Republic.

(end of extracts)