28 June 2013 - Following the coup earlier this year, the entire population of the Central African Republic is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis.
A group of NGOs including Action Against Hunger is warning that the situation for the country’s 4.6 million citizens is dire. It’s imperative that international governments intervene quickly to fund a needed 60 million euros in humanitarian aid, as indicated by the nine humanitarian aid organisations that are working together. All of central Africa could be destabilised by this political crisis if urgent action isn’t taken.
Archbishop of Bangui, Central African Republic, Dieudonné Nzapalainga, says: "The current humanitarian crisis is the worst in the country’s history. It is urgent that the international community provides funds quickly to help and to save lives. The world can’t turn a blind eye on the crisis here. The country is bordered by six of the most fragile African nations—there is a high risk of destabilisation throughout Central Africa.”
NGOs have highlighted several alarming aspects of the humanitarian crisis that are likely to get worse as the rainy season approaches:
• More than 60,000 children and families are suffering from severe food shortages
• More than 200,000 children and families have been forced to flee their homes in the last six months and are in urgent need of shelter, food and medical care
• Most health centres in the country have been closed for more than six months, and the population is going without even the most basic services
• Nearly one million children are not going to school, and hundreds of thousands have missed virtually the entire school year, as schools have been closed for safety reasons
• Looting, rape, arbitrary killings and kidnappings have sown fear among the population. Looting of warehouses containing aid supplies has hampered response
• Children, especially girls, are exposed to a lot of abuse, including sexual violence, gender-based violence, and early marriage
• Given the lack of basic services, diarrhoea and malaria are likely to have a significant impact on the 800,000 children under age five in the country
• Thousands of children are part of the armed forces and related groups. Child recruitment continues and it’s not uncommon to see boys and girls, some as young as 12, operating checkpoints and carrying weapons
• There is no regular UN presence outside Bangui, the capital
In March 2013, after more than three months of fighting, the rebel coalition Seleka overthrew the government, and the group’s leader, Michel Djotodia, proclaimed himself President.
Together with our NGO colleagues, we’re calling on the President’s administration to improve access for humanitarian agencies in all regions of the country, especially in rural areas. Improving security in the country is crucial to enable the restoration of basic services, such as the reopening of health centers and schools.
And we’re calling on the international community to increase funding for humanitarian aid. The UN estimates that the Central African Republic needs about 97 million euros worth of aid, with current donations only meeting 43% of the need.
Alain Coutand, our Regional Operations Manager, added: "While the situation is dramatic, improvement in Central African Republic is totally feasible and possible. To prevent further deterioration of the situation, we must redouble our efforts to help make a tangible, positive impact for the population."