Central African Republichttp://hdptcar.net
The crisis in the Central African Republic stems from decades of insecurity, failed development and abject poverty. The country has some of the worst social indicators in the world, with 20 per cent mortality rate for children under five and a national life expectancy of 43 years. The peace process is in its early stages and remains extremely fragile. Bandits roam with impunity and continue to take advantage of the Government’s difficulties in controlling parts of the country. There has been renewed fighting in the north and incursions by the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army in the south-east have resulted in the displacement of many communities.
Approximately 108,000 men, women and children remain displaced within the country. The majority have fled to nearby towns or the countryside, where they are living without access to food, water or the most rudimentary social services. Over the last 18 months, nearly 85,000 people have returned to their villages of origin but found their homes destroyed and their fields overgrown. Just over 100,000 refugees in Cameroon, Chad and Sudan remain too frightened to return to their homes.
The Humanitarian and Development Partnership Team (HDPT), uniting over 40 aid agencies, expects this fluctuating pattern of displacement and returns to continue in 2009. The challenge is to close gaps that remain in the humanitarian response by focusing on the provision of protection and emergency assistance in all areas struck by violence. This includes integration of recovery activities into humanitarian action to support returnees in rebuilding their lives. Aid agencies need to work together to increase advocacy efforts to maintain and increase nascent international interest.
In 2009, OCHA will, in addition to its office in Bangui, continue to manage two common United Nations sub-offices in the conflict-torn north: Paoua in the northwest and Ndélé in the north east. Ndélé, the newest of the two offices opened in April 2008 and is gaining ground in providing services to humanitarian partners working in the region and, it is hoped, will attract additional humanitarian presence in this neglected part of the country. Through both sub-offices, inter-cluster coordination will be supported by OCHA to ensure that humanitarian action responds to all urgent needs and that emergency assistance and early recovery activities are integrated.
OCHA will continue to organize and lead inter-agency humanitarian assessments. As part of a global and national advocacy campaign, the office will advocate with all armed forces for safe humanitarian access and for increased respect of human rights. OCHA’s pilot advocacy campaign on internally displaced persons (IDPs) will focus on building the capacity of IDPs so that they can petition the Government to fulfil its obligations towards displaced persons. In addition to awareness-raising campaigns and training seminars at the national and local levels, the campaign will reach out to global partners and international media with information products and advocacy opportunities, not least through the regularly updated HDPT webpage.
In July 2008, the Humanitarian Coordinator launched a Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF), administered by OCHA, which replaced the more limited Emergency Response Fund (ERF). Except for an emergency reserve, CHF funding is allocated to priority projects from the consolidated appeal allowing a more strategic and predictable use of funds. OCHA expects the fund to grow substantially in 2009, surpassing combined allocations of US$ 9.4 million of the ERF and the CHF in 2008.