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An urgent appeal has been made by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to help provide farmers in the Central African Republic (CAR) with seeds and tools to avert a famine and get them through till the harvesting season.
In a news release on Monday, FAO reported that more than 1.5 million people (a third of the population) in CAR are facing starvation as hostilities are still being felt across the country. FAO further warned that the figure was likely to rise should immediate support not be provided. FAO’s Representative in CAR, Jean-Alexandre Scaglia said “The smooth implementation of the agriculture campaign activities is key to contribute to the decrease of political tensions, of which the main cause is extreme poverty,” “Agriculture remains the most important source of income for the majority of the population in the country.” He added.
The violence that erupted more than two years ago has left hundreds of thousands of civilians homeless. Many more are seeking asylum outside the country. Currently, FAO has secured funding to assist 86,400 households but it is appealing for an additional $6.2 million to support a further 63,600 households for the upcoming main planting seasons starting in April. Mr. Scaglia insists that if the people are provided with the necessary requirements for planting, there will be a decrease in violence and will lead to a long term peace for the people.
FAO says that the people need to find a source of livelihood. Therefore, ensuring that planting is done in the next month will help reduce dependence on relief food aid and humanitarian assistance. It is said that each family will receive critical agricultural aid such as seeds and farming tools to cover food needs for up to five months. The agency says that if this is not done, the situation will only be worsened and the country’s “significant food shortages” and population movements increasing latent tensions.
As with other conflicts around the continent, it seems the simmering conflict in the CAR, and the humanitarian crisis it continues to spawn, has been pushed to the background of global dialog as other issues become more pressing.