More than 45,000 people face a major food crisis in the northeastern region of Central African Republic (CAR), with malnutrition rates far exceeding emergency levels. International Medical Corps’ nutrition screening of 1,332 children in the town of Sikikédé revealed that 21 percent are suffering from global acute malnutrition, and seven percent have severe acute malnutrition—three times the emergency threshold of two percent. There are also 17 confirmed cases of measles and two deaths from the disease, which is spreading rapidly among children. Impacted towns include Tiringoulou, Sikikédé, Gordil Ndiffa and Mélé in the western region of Vakaga prefecture.
International Medical Corps, which has been present in CAR since 2004, is launching an in-country emergency response to address CAR’s food crisis and heightened risk of disease outbreaks. The response will include nutrition and immunization programs, as well as child protection activities. According to International Medical Corps’ CAR Country Director, Dr. Christian Mulamba, “It is time for action. We have to provide urgent humanitarian assistance, or we will see a steady increase in deaths. The government and humanitarian partners have to scale up assistance in order to address this crisis effectively. Funding is crucial to ensure that prompt and timely assistance is provided.”
CAR, among the poorest countries in the world, is plagued by almost constant unrest. With numerous armed groups operating throughout CAR, internal displacement and refugee movements are common. In 2011, recurrent conflicts between two rebel groups led to large-scale population displacement. Over 10,000 people have returned in recent months, but they lack basic services and have lost their livelihoods as a result of conflict.
International Medical Corps works primarily in the insecure northern and eastern provinces of CAR, namely Haute-Kotto, Vakaga, Bamingui-Bangoran, and most recently, Ouaka. Since 2007, the organization has also provided assistance and protection to Darfur refugees living in Sam Ouandja. To help those most in need, International Medical Corps operates mobile medical units that travel – sometimes up to three days by motorbike—throughout the country to offer vital health care services to the country’s most isolated villages.