Central African Republic (CAR)
- Helped secure humanitarian access to key areas after negotiations with Government military and rebel representatives.
- Ensured prompt response to recurrent humanitarian problems in the north-east resulting from insecurity. This response helped meet the needs of communities displaced by fighting.
- Instigated a 16 per cent increase of the Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF) through constructive dialogue with donors and OCHA’s support of the HC’s management of the CHF.
Key areas of CAR were still prone to outbreaks of violence and instability in 2009. This was despite the gains made following the December 2008 Inclusive Political Dialogue and progress with the ongoing Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) campaign. Contending with security problems and logistical constraints, humanitarian organizations faced a steady erosion of the humanitarian space in key areas of operations. CAR still suffers from poor visibility, largely overlooked by the international community. However, needs are rising. Serious humanitarian situations have emerged in the east and south-west of the country, affecting up to one third of the population. There is a substantial presence of humanitarian agencies, but limited funding means there has been limited expansion of humanitarian activities.
OCHA was instrumental in consolidating the humanitarian coordination architecture, with new fully functioning clusters, each with updated sector strategies and a work plan. OCHA’s sub-offices in Ndélé and Paoua helped ensure more effective inter-cluster coordination among the nine clusters at field level. Until October 2009, OCHA chaired monthly inter-cluster meetings in Bangui with the participation of cluster leads and NGO co-leads. Discussions focused on substantive programming issues, funding mechanisms and the clusters.
At the national level, OCHA took the lead in creating a HCT by the end of December 2009. ToRs for a HCT based on IASC principles were drafted by OCHA, discussed with clusters and endorsed by the HC in December 2009. The HCT is expected to improve high-level decision-making processes and ensure that key issues regarding funding allocation and humanitarian access are properly addressed. The HCT should have a strong overview of overall strategic priorities regarding humanitarian assistance in-country.
The long-awaited arrival of a new HC in October 2009 is also helping reinforce linkages and coherence between OCHA and the UNCT, particularly in areas such as emergency preparedness.
Faced by new humanitarian emergencies, OCHA took the lead in coordinating a rapid and adequate response through establishing ad hoc operational task forces in different regions. These task forces helped provide assistance to 5,000 IDPs and 1,200 refugees fleeing attacks from the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in the south-east; 12,000 IDPs fleeing inter-ethnic conflict in the north-east; and 18,500 Congolese refugees fleeing violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). A task force was also deployed in the south-west to help tackle a nutritional crisis.
OCHA continued to play a key role in addressing protection-related issues. It provided relevant information and led advocacy efforts with national forces and non-State actors on ensuring greater respect for International Humanitarian Law (IHL). With Government armed forces and rebel movements, OCHA has helped advocate safer humanitarian access and increased respect for human rights, working on a case-by-case basis. OCHA’s negotiations led to a humanitarian corridor to open between Ndélé in the north and the Chadian border, resulting in the safe delivery of food assistance to 19,000 refugees in a remote area of Daha in Southern Chad. OCHA helped negotiate the release of three humanitarian workers detained by a rebel group in the Kabo area in May 2009, and the release of an international journalist arbitrarily arrested by the national forces in Ndélé in June. Working with UNHCR, OCHA has played a supportive role in launching a national advocacy campaign for the protection of IDPs, which was launched in February 2009.
The CAP 2009 mobilized up to $72 million, allocated to emergency and early recovery projects, out of $100 million requested. The consolidation of a more inclusive humanitarian coordination architecture gave donors more confidence, resulting in a 16 per cent increase in contributions to the CHF compared with 2008. Gender is one of several criteria taken into account in the selection of CHF projects. There has been a strong emphasis on transparency and accountability in the allocation process, with fund allocation and project selection discussed within the cluster system. The CHF Advisory Board is made up of United Nations agencies, donor representatives and NGOs. A gender training session was held during the OCHA CAR office retreat in February 2009. Staff designed an office gender policy plan on the basis of discussions at the retreat.