UN warns 1.3m people in C.Africa need food aid

The United Nations on Thursday said 1.3 million people in the Central African Republic needed food aid, as the UN Security Council backed an African and French military intervention to halt growing deadly unrest.

"In Central African Republic, 1.3 million people are in need of emergency food assistance due to civil unrest," the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said in a report on world cereal production and needs.

The figure, which represents more than a quarter of the country's total population, was up from an assessment of 1.1 million provided by the UN a month ago.

The report also issued a food warning for five Sahel countries further West -- Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal -- saying that crops and pastures had been affected by a delayed and short rainy season.

"The situation could lead to a new surge in food insecurity and malnutrition," it said.

The organisation said that continued civil conflicts had created "severe food insecurity" for six million people in Syria and 4.5 million in Yemen.

The report said world cereal production in 2013 is expected to reach a new high of 2,500 million tonnes -- almost 8.4 percent more than last year and 6.0 percent higher than the previous record in 2011.

It said food prices had remained stable, with the FAO Food Price Index averaging 206.3 points in November compared to 206.6 points in October.