Lead photo: The National Forum of Bangui during the report on ‘Justice and Reconciliation’ in the capital of the Central African Republic on 9 May 2015.
The history of the Central African Republic (CAR) has been riddled with conflict since it was first established in 1960, but the past few years have been particularly upsetting. In December of 2012, fighting between the Seleka and Anti-Balaka groups began causing catastrophe. Towns were burned to the ground. Men were either recruited to fight or were killed. Women were raped, taken as slaves, or slaughtered with their children.
To complicate matters, there truly was never a good or bad side to begin with. The CAR was a poor country at the start and as seen in every major conflict, upheaval occurred when people felt they weren’t treated fairly. Unfortunately, a few bad people started propagating hate that sparked killing and pillaging. Now there is no way to ‘take back’ what has been done. The scale of the situation has spread and over a million lives have been affected in both the CAR and surrounding countries.
While there has been some international response and the storm has seemingly calmed, rebel groups are continuing to fight for power. Some areas are still controlled by armed militias leaving many who need humanitarian assistance unreachable. More than 6,000 lives have been lost since 2012 and the number continues to rise due to violence and humanitarian crises. As long as these groups continue to terrorize the countryside, innocent people will suffer.
Today a new bipartisan bill, The Reach Every Mother and Child Act, was introduced to the Senate by Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Chris Coons (D-Del). The Reach Every Mother and Child Act will build upon decades-old work of the United States being a leader on drastically reducing maternal, newborn, and child mortality. In fact, this new bill will help save the lives of 15 million children and 600,000 women by 2020.
Guest Post by Brian Kennell, Tetra Pak president and CEO for the U.S. and Canada
From just-squeezed juices to artisan sandwiches to colorful bunches of fresh-picked vegetables, nutritious dietary offerings have never been so bountiful or convenient for affluent Americans. They can legitimately browse for gourmet-quality dinners inside local supermarkets as well as convenience stores or trendy “small box” neighborhood groceries.
Unfortunately, that is not the case for some 23.5 million largely underserved U.S. residents who live in “food deserts,” areas where grocery stores are absent, and food options frequently range from fast food to corner mini-marts, where chips, soda pop, candy, cakes and snack packs are more likely to line the shelves than fresh fruits, vegetables, poultry and meat; whole-grain bread, pasta and cereal; or high-quality dairy and all-fruit juice drinks. Many food desert residents, without access to foodstuffs that allow them to eat three full, nutritious meals a day, regularly lack food security.
Food Deserts and Health
Unsurprisingly, because residents have access to and consume foods that tend to be high in sugar, fat and salt, food deserts are strongly correlated with higher rates of obesity and other nutrition-influenced chronic diseases, note academic studies such as “Distance to store, food prices, and obesity in urban food deserts” in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. First Lady Michelle Obama noted this four years ago when she made eradicating food deserts to stem food insecurity one of the goals of her “Let’s Move” Campaign. But the issue has proved just as intractable as it is complex.