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UN Seeks Additional Funding For CAR Refugees

The United Nations refugee agency Tuesday called on international donors to increase funding for programs in neighboring countries hosting refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR).

"The CAR remains one of the most poorly-funded emergencies. The underfunding is badly hampering our ability to provide even basic survival assistance for the refugees and even less to host communities," Babar Baloch, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told reporters in Geneva.

The appeal, backed also by 16 other agencies providing life-saving relief, is a revision of a Regional Refugee Response Plan covering the four asylum countries - Chad, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Republic of Congo - initially launched in April 2014.

Tuesday's revised plan puts the required needs at $210 million for a targeted beneficiary population of 306,500 by December 2014. To date, the amount is only 31 percent funded.

"Serious gaps in assistance remain in shelter and water, sanitation and hygiene. This poses particular concern now that the rainy season has begun," Baloch said, stressing the need for resources and life-saving supplies.

Over 357,000 CAR refugees are in Cameroon, Chad, DRC and the Republic of Congo and some 160,000 of them have fled since December 2013 after clashes intensified between the Seleka alliance and anti-Balaka militia.

The situation is particularly worrisome in Cameroon, where a majority of the refugees are arriving. To deal with the influx of refugees there, the Revised Plan requested $111 million, almost double of what was sought earlier.

"UNHCR has seen particularly serious malnutrition rates in Cameroon for over 118,000 arrivals in the last six months. Over 60 per cent of the refugees are women and children, with a high number of unaccompanied children," Baloch said.

The UN agency noted that thousands of children have been affected by the region's conflict. Since December 2013, some 17,500 have arrived in Chad, over 15,000 in DRC, with another 9,000 in the Republic of Congo.

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