In October 2011, an OCHA study revealed there were 22,180 newly displaced people in the Central African Republic (CAR) due to internal conflicts, banditry and attacks from the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in the south-east. A total of 171,751 Central Africans are directly affected by displacement within CAR, including an estimated 105,206 IDPs and 66,545 returnees.
OCHA monitored the humanitarian situation and ensured a coordinated response with partners. Needs were identified through OCHA-facilitated inter-agency assessment missions. Clusters provided assistance while prioritizing the needs of the most vulnerable groups.
OCHA’s operational field coordination role is a recognized strength. Through a large information network, and on the basis of thorough context analysis, the office ensured that humanitarian assistance was provided throughout the country. OCHA supported the humanitarian response on issues including access, civilian protection and needs assessments. Its permanent presence in key locations such as Ndélé and Paoua served as information hubs and encouraged other relief organizations to establish offices in these conflict-affected areas.
The coordination of humanitarian activities being implemented in the LRA-affected south-east was ensured remotely from Bangui. The Ndélé sub-office was instrumental in leading humanitarian negotiation processes and strengthening partnerships with non-humanitarian actors. In 2011, the office provided humanitarian briefings and logistical support to various missions. The Paoua sub-office also provided humanitarian briefings and logistical support to the country’s Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration programme.
OCHA secured humanitarian access to conflict-affected people through negotiations with state and non-state actors. Access constraints impeded aid delivery in large parts of the country, particularly in regions affected by conflict or with poor road infrastructure. As chair of the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service user group, OCHA helped to secure access and the respect of humanitarian space.
In 2011, OCHA successfully advocated for the protection of civilians during conflicts. It facilitated a mission to Ndélé to broker humanitarian access with two rebel groups: the Convention des Patriotes pour la Justice et la Paix (CPJP) and the Union des Forces Démocratiques pour le Rassemblement (UFDR). During this mission, the CPJP leader committed to releasing a list of child soldiers within its ranks. This eventually led to an agreement being signed in November for the release of child soldiers within the CPJP. Following the September conflict between CPJP and UFDR in Bria (Hautte Kotto Prefecture), OCHA organized and facilitated a rapid joint mission to the region to assess the humanitarian impact on basic social services and identify needs. This mission led to more effective collaboration among partners working in the north-east.
OCHA continued to collaborate with the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in CAR (BINUCA) on its strategic plan towards peace consolidation. Through effective negotiation skills, OCHA supported BINUCA by creating links between parties in conflict. OCHA facilitated a joint mission to Ndélé in 2011 in the rebel-affected region, which was formerly not accessible to humanitarians due to conflict between rebel groups.
However, integration remains a challenge due to the conflicting interests of humanitarian, political and military actors. It was sometimes difficult for OCHA to be perceived as representing the interests of both the UN and non-UN humanitarian community. OCHA continued to seek greater coherence with all partners while ensuring humanitarian space, effective coordination of life-saving assistance and respect for humanitarian principles.
OCHA ensured effective information sharing and decision-making through monthly HCT meetings, cluster meetings, and a weekly information meeting attended by over 60 organizations. These forums were crucial in setting up a humanitarian strategy, coordinating response in order to avoid the duplication of already limited resources, and identifying constraints and gaps.
OCHA produced one of the most widely-read information bulletins on CAR, according to a global survey carried out in 2011. A wide readership was ensured due to its publication in French and English. OCHA boosted the development of information products including maps and reports, and disseminated them through a regularly updated website.
The Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF) and the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) played a key role in covering funding gaps in the 2011 humanitarian response outlined in the CAP. Both mechanisms allocated over $8 million and $5 million respectively to priority, emergency and underfunded projects. Resource mobilization remains a critical challenge in CAR, possibly due to donor fatigue and emerging new crises worldwide. Over the past two years, the CAP received less than 50 per cent funding, with 43 per cent covered in 2010 and 48 per cent covered in 2011. OCHA carried out awareness raising and advocacy through information products including the CAP document, thematic maps, funding graphs, bilingual information bulletins, issue-based or geographic briefing papers and country briefings.
OCHA organized a 2011 CAP workshop attended by NGOs, UN agencies and Government partners. However, only $17 million out of the $134 million required in the 2012 CAP addressed multi-sectoral projects, as the establishment of joint CAP projects remains a challenge for the humanitarian community. Furthermore, only 10 per cent and 16 per cent of projects submitted for funding by CHF and CERF respectively were multi-sectoral projects. OCHA is engaged in facilitating this process by emphasizing its added value, as joint projects would maximize the use of already limited CAP funding. The CAP evaluation will formally start in 2012 with the use of the humanitarian dashboard.
CHF and CERF allocation mechanisms have been strategically restructured to ensure more credibility and transparency in the project selection and allocation process. A structured monitoring mechanism will be developed and consolidated in order to encourage donors to increase their funding to the CHF. A monitoring strategy will be designed in 2012. Besides ensuring the mobilization of pooled funds, the strategy will also engage OCHA’s three sub-offices in the field and other key partners in an operational monitoring mechanism, which will include details on field evaluations and reporting requirements.