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IDPs face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or higher; malnutrition and mortality high among refugees in Cameroon

  • Alert
  • Central African Republic
  • November 18, 2014
IDPs face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or higher; malnutrition and mortality high among refugees in Cameroon

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  • Summary

  • Summary

    Due to conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR), household food and income sources remain significantly disrupted, leaving affected households, particularly IDPs, with food consumption gaps equivalent to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or higher. Although ongoing harvests are easing current assistance needs, approximately 1 million people may require assistance by the 2015 lean season (May to September). Very high levels of acute malnutrition and mortality have also been recorded at CAR refugee camps in Cameroon. For both refugees and IDPs, assistance is urgently needed to help households meet minimal food requirements and treat acute malnutrition.

    According to estimates by the FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM), CAR’s 2014 national crop production is down 58 percent compared to the pre-conflict average, with food stocks for a selected number of prefectures projected to last between two and seven months this year, compared to four and eleven months normally. The CFSAM’s food balance sheets also indicate that given projected crop production, food imports, and humanitarian assistance levels, CAR will likely face a deficit of more than 80,000 tonnes of cereals and cassava (in cereal equivalent). Although ongoing harvests will provide most non-displaced households with food in the short-term, their food access through market purchase later in the consumption year (October 2014 to September 2015) will likely be constrained due to atypically low incomes from sources such as livestock sales.

    Conflict has led to the continued internal displacement of 409,000 people. For IDPs who were unable to cultivate, food insecurity is currently the most severe.  As of November, this population is facing food consumption gaps and the depletion of assets equivalent to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity or higher. This is in line with a recent IOM survey conducted in September 2014 of IDPs in Bangui, which found that the majority of interviewed households reported reducing their food consumption (94 percent), going more than a day without eating (85 percent), and selling belongings to buy food (66 percent). In 2015, the size of the food insecure population, as well as the severity of food insecurity, will likely grow. Assistance needs may near or exceed 1 million. During the month of September 2014, WFP food distributions reached 256,000 people.

    Conditions for CAR refugees in Cameroon also require attention. An August/September multisectoral assessment by UNICEF and the Cameroon Ministry of Health at the Timangolo site for CAR refugees sampled 351 children ages 6 to 59 months and found a preliminary prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM) of 41.1 percent (95 percent CI: 36.0 – 46.4), significantly exceeding WHO’s critical threshold. It also found a preliminary crude death rate for children under the age of 5 of 4 deaths/10,000/day (95 percent CI: 3.04 – 5.23) over an 8 month recall period, which could have included time spent in either CAR or Cameroon. While the reported cause of deaths was not disaggregated for children under 5, malnutrition accounted for 17.4 percent of deaths amongst the general population while diarrhea, fever, and respiratory illnesses accounted for another 28.1 percent. Although these results speak only to malnutrition and mortality at a single site, the results mirror those of other surveys and surveillance programs (MSF, UNHCR/UNICEF/WFP) undertaken at other sites since April reporting extremely high GAM levels for CAR refugee populations.

    Humanitarian assistance is urgently needed, particularly for IDPs in CAR and refugees in Cameroon, to prevent food consumptions gaps and to prevent and treat acute malnutrition. In CAR, given projections of a national food deficit, efforts should also be made to ensure local food availability. Moreover, due to continued civil insecurity, humanitarian organizations have been forced to limited or temporary suspend distributions in certain areas. Therefore, improved humanitarian access to areas worst affected by conflict is needed to ensure assistance effectively reaches food-insecure populations in these zones.

    Figures Figure 1. CAR refugee concentrations in neighboring countries

    Figure 1

    Figure 1. CAR refugee concentrations in neighboring countries

    Source: UNHCR

    FEWS NET will publish an Alert to highlight a current or anticipated shock expected to drive a sharp deterioration in food security, such that a humanitarian food assistance response is imminently needed.

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