UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is airlifting life-saving aid to a region on the brink of a severe food shortage 1,000 kilometers east of Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), a UN spokesman said Wednesday.
The spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Stephane Dujarric, told reporters at a regular briefing that WFP "has launched an airlift operation to deliver life-saving food supplies to 18,000 people in Zemio, about 1,000 km east of the capital."
"WFP says the airlift is the first step in a more comprehensive plan to address the humanitarian situation in the southeast of the country," Dujarric said. "Long-running conflict is having devastating effects on people in the Central African Republic."
"Up to 2.1 million people, almost half of the country's 4.7 million population, are food insecure, according to the National Food Security Assessment," he said.
WFP will provide food to internally displaced persons and the hosts who have been sheltering them, the UN food agency said.
WFP says it normally moves supplies into Zemio via Obo by land from neighboring Uganda and by river from the capital Bangui via Bangassou, but a broken bridge and out-of-service ferries have made it impossible.
WFP is looking into alternative options to move food by river while engineers from the UN peacekeeping mission in CAR are working to repair the ferry.
"The humanitarian situation in Zemio is perilous and can quickly descend into a catastrophe, if we do not act now," said Gian Carlo Cirri, WFP representative and country director in CAR. "Partners on the ground say women and children do not have enough food to eat and people are living in dire conditions."