Mid-Year Review of the Consolidated Appeal for the Central African Republic 2007

17 July 2007

Violence has now displaced a greater proportion of the population in the north of the Central African Republic (CAR) than in any other country of the world.  Torching villages, unknown in CAR until November 2005, has become routine, summary executions reign in a climate of impunity, and rape shatters the dignity and health of the country’s women.  This is the reality faced by one million people scattered in small villages or seeking refuge in the bush along the borders with Chad and Sudan.  And it comes on top of the world’s most oppressive poverty which has seen almost two thirds of CAR’s population of 4.2 million survive on less than US$ 1 per day.[1]

There is an emergency in CAR.  The mortality rate of children under five has gone above the emergency threshold.  The crisis is based on a menacing web of politics, insecurity and poverty.  Humanitarian action can never resolve these problems, but it can alleviate the terrible suffering of hundreds of thousands of people caught in the cross-fire, chased from their villages, or living in areas where war has destroyed economic activity.  Providing succour to our fellow man during times of distress is a responsibility shared by all.

The worst violence continues in the northwest, in particular near the borders with Cameroon and Chad.  This is where a volunteer with Médecins sans Frontières (MSF), Elsa Serfass, lost her life on 11 June.  In the northeast, the threat of violence spilling in from Darfur is ever-present.  During the first week of June, armed militia on horseback and camels attacked a non-governmental organisation (NGO) helping local communities with desperately needed water and sanitation. 

There is hope, and action to translate it into meaningful respite.  On the political front, two agreements between the Government and militant groups have calmed tensions and led to a tangible decline in violence.  The rate of displacement in some areas (for example around Kaga-Bandoro) has abated and there are clear signs of internally displaced persons (IDPs) returning to their villages.  This sign of hope is not the only one: the United Nations has witnessed Government forces and Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR[2]) militants working hand-in-hand to provide safe haven to almost 3,000 refugees arriving in the north-eastern hamlet of Sam Ouandja.  War brings out the worst and best in man, and Central Africans are only too willing to help themselves provided they receive the appropriate support from the international community.

Two types of support are needed: humanitarian action and development cooperation.  The Mid-Year Review (MYR) focuses on the former, but cannot ignore the latter.  Humanitarian and development agencies strive to integrate the two strands of assistance in CAR.  The name of the Humanitarian and Development Partnership Team, and merging of cluster groups with development thematic groups, tell of efforts to ensure a holistic approach to aid, hence the name of this CAP: Coordinated Aid Programme.  Sharing information between partners inside and outside the country is a key priority, and the Information Management System has been entirely overhauled during the past six months. The purpose is to increase efficiency, speed, and quality of information sharing.  With new NGOs arriving, and the United Nations extending their humanitarian operations, the aid community is approaching its basic objective of keeping people alive and providing urgently needed assistance. 

The ultimate goal of humanitarian and development work goes beyond merely keeping people alive for the next six months. Rather, the objective is to enable the people of CAR to live healthier, safer, and longer lives.  This year, the Government of CAR is presenting its strategy for development and poverty reduction to donors in a series of consultations, which will culminate in an Autumn Round Table. The ambition is to muster support for the ambitious Government programme to lift the population out of extreme poverty.  This initiative should be celebrated by donors, whose objective it is to ensure that humanitarian assistance has a long-term impact. 

In the words of the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, John Holmes, “the Central African Republic is one of the region’s biggest crises and certainly the most forgotten one”.  Contributing to NGOs and United Nations agencies working in CAR, who now require $45 million is a collective duty, and a commitment to life.  A contribution now can also help prevent instability in this fragile region.

[1]All dollar figures in this document are United States dollars.  Funding for this plan should be reported to the Financial Tracking Service (FTS, fts@reliefweb.int), which will display its requirements and funding, continually updated, on the CAP 2007 page. 

[2]Union des Forces Démocratiques du Rassemblement. 

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17 July 2007

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