Sibut flood victims get aid

Flood victims in the town of Sibut, some 185 km northeast of the Central African Republic capital of Bangui, have now received food and other relief material, aid officials told IRIN on Friday.

"We distributed aid because there was acute shortage of food, and to avoid nutritional degradation," David Bulman, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) representative, said.

He said WFP distributed 10 mt of yellow split peas that should last two months, time enough for the recipients to resume farming. Only women were allowed at the distribution site, for organisational and security reasons.

"Our past experience showed that distributions were better and smoother with women," Bulman said.

Moreover, he said, since women controlled food in their communities, the deliveries were more likely to reach children. In addition, he said, distribution of food to women would reinforce their status in the community.

Complimenting WFP's effort, the local Red Cross reported it had distributed 213 blankets, 71 tents, 142 jerry cans, and water purification tablets to the victims. The International Committee of Red Cross donated the blankets and tents, and the UN Children's Fund provided the jerry cans and purification tablets, CAR Red Cross Chairman Mohamed Dhaffane said in Bangui on Saturday.

The relief items were distributed on Wednesday and Thursday, and follow an urgent appeal on 10 September by Daffane for food, blankets, utensils, drugs and tents for the 350 victims. Heavy rains on 1-2 September caused floods that deepened the food deficit in Sibut that resulted from a six-month rebellion against President Ange-Felix Patasse that ended in March 2003.