Blog one of three from Central African Republic

Central African Republic: 'A real crisis'

Mike Penrose, CEO of Action Against Hunger in France, visited the crises in Central African Republic. This is the first in Mike's series of three blogs.

By Mike Penrose

Jan 15 2014

'Even after nearly 20 years in humanitarian assistance I thought I was almost unshockable, but the living conditions in some of the camps in the Central African Republic are as bad as I have seen or heard about. The sanitation situation is appalling, and there is next to no camp management or organisation. These aren’t the refugee camps you see on television, like Zatari in Jordan, or Daadab in Kenya, with orderly lines of tents, medical clinics, latrines and food distribution centres. These are chaotic and ad-hoc settlements, with no refuse collection, little sanitation, and poor medical services. These are rubbish dumps on which people have to live.

1 in 20 children at imminent risk of death

Whist humanitarian organisations like Action Against Hunger are doing what they can to provide the basics of hygiene, sanitation and nutritional support to the most vulnerable, there is much much more that is needed. The latest estimation of Severe Acute Malnutrition - SAM in the camps (the kind that kills) is currently around 5%. The overall level of malnutrition (Global Acute Malnutrition or GAM) is estimated to be much higher. To put this in perspective the global threshold for declaring a malnutrition emergency is 2% SAM.  This means in the camps around Bangui and Bossangoa that 1 child in 20 of the children surveyed is at imminent risk of death. Many many more are malnourished. The security situation is challenging, but organisations like Action Against Hunger are able to access many of the most vulnerable children. We need the resources to do it. We need money, and we need it quickly. As was rightly publicised by the UN recently, this is a real and present humanitarian crisis.'

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Photo credits:  © ACF & Bernadette Chichon