CAR: Consequences will be dramatic if we don’t act immediately, warns Operations Director

16 January, 2014
Despite the insecurity in the Central African Republic, children attending school receive meals from the World Food Programme. Credit: WFP/A.Masciarelli
Despite the insecurity in the Central African Republic, children attending school receive meals from the World Food Programme. Credit: WFP/A.Masciarelli

OCHA Operations Director John Ging warned that the humanitarian consequences will be dramatic, “if we don’t act immediately and effectively” to respond to the humanitarian ‘mega-tragedy’ in the Central African Republic (CAR) where over 2.6 million people need assistance. Political turmoil and violence have displaced over 886,000 people across the country, including more than 512,000 people in the capital, Bangui.

“The humanitarian crisis in CAR that we face today is the product of the international community ignoring the development of that crisis. Public service institutions - health care, education, social services - have collapsed, resulting in a tragic humanitarian situation for the people,” said Mr. Ging, who has just returned from a 5-day mission to the country.

“We are all very concerned about the possibility of this conflict deteriorating, initiated and incited by extremely violent people who have an agenda to try to convert this into an inter-ethnic, inter-religious conflict.”

Ordinary people living in fear

Mr. Ging travelled to Bangui and Bossangoa to take stock of the humanitarian situation and to meet communities affected by the violence and the aid organizations that are trying to help them despite the continuing insecurity.

“Ordinary people are living in fear, and that fear is being expressed by having to flee their homes in the face of the atrocities being committed,” said Mr. Ging.

“Communities want nothing more than security, peace, and an environment in which they can return home and rebuild their lives. The community and religious leaders are working very hard on this, and we commend them for this. The message is unite for peace.”

1.3 million people do not have enough to eat

About 1.3 million people across CAR do not have enough to eat. Hundreds of families displaced since early December desperately need basic assistance, including food, water, shelter and health care. The World Food Programme and partners have reached hundreds of thousands of people with food aid since December but continue to face major challenges.

Early this week, delivery of food aid and other essential supplies resumed at Bangui International Airport, one of the largest displacement sites in the capital currently hosting over 100,000 people. Deliveries there were suspended last week due to security concerns but aid agencies managed to get supplies to over 4,400 families and vaccinated more than 40,000 children under five for measles.

“The humanitarian needs are the very basics - clean drinking water, food, sanitation, and basic health care. The humanitarian community has given this crisis the highest status in terms of our prioritization of the response,” said Mr. Ging. “However we are very significantly constrained by underfunding.”

Only 6 per cent of funding received

UN agencies and humanitarian partners have asked for US$247 million to provide assistance in CAR this year but have only received 6 per cent of the funding so far. Last year, CAR remained one of the least-funded crises globally and aid organizations received just over half funding required to provide life-saving assistance.

“We are only appealing for money for the very basics, to feed people, to provide basic medical care, clean water, the basic for shelter and so on. That is what the $247 million is to deliver and yet we have only $15.5 million so far. We cannot meet the needs of this population without the mobilization of the resources that we require,” added Mr. Ging.

On Monday 20 January, UN Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos and European Union Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid Kristalina Georgieva are expected to co-chair a high-level meeting in Brussels to discuss the humanitarian situation in CAR and the financial requirements for the much-needed aid.

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