CAR: Facing one of the world’s worst humanitarian funding shortfalls

6 March, 2012
29 February 2012, Central African Republic: Internally displaced women and children in Zoukoutouniala, Bamingui-Bangoran Prefecture, north-eastern CAR. Credit: OCHA/ Laura Fultang
29 February 2012, Central African Republic: Internally displaced women and children in Zoukoutouniala, Bamingui-Bangoran Prefecture, north-eastern CAR. Credit: OCHA/ Laura Fultang

John Ging, OCHA’s Operations Director, warned that the Central African Republic (CAR) faces one of the world’s worst funding shortfalls despite the country’s deteriorating humanitarian crisis. 

Mr. Ging, who visited CAR from 29 February to 2 March, witnessed first hand the appalling humanitarian conditions endured by tens of thousands of people affected by conflict, displacement and poverty. 
 
“The European Commission has described CAR as the world’s second-most-vulnerable country after Somalia,” said Mr. Ging, after meeting internally displaced communities in the conflict-affected north-east. “Simply put, without adequate funding we are failing the people, particularly the country’s children.”  
 
“With the recently brokered ceasefires in conflict-affected areas, we are seeing a very real opportunity for sustainable recovery in CAR, but this is being jeopardized by the severe shortfalls in humanitarian funding,” he said. “We must do everything possible to mobilize an urgent re-engagement by the donor community.” 
 
More than 1.9 million people, about half of CAR’s population, need humanitarian assistance, and 94,000 people are displaced around the country. Two in five children under age 5 are chronically malnourished, while two thirds of Central Africans do not have access to clean drinking water or health facilities. 
 
The country faces a chronic medical emergency, with one of the world’s highest death rates from infectious and parasitic diseases. About 30 per cent of people have access to medical facilities, but there is only one health worker per 7,000 people. 
 
Despite these concerns, aid agencies working in the country received less than 50 per cent of the required funding in 2011 to provide life-saving aid and longer-term support. So far this year, only 5 per cent of the US$134 million required for 2012 has been received.  

In Bamingui-Bangoran, north-east CAR, widespread conflict has displaced more than 14,000 people in the last few months. Mr. Ging met people in Bamingui-Bangoran who had recently returned to their villages and who urgently need support to rebuild their lives. 
 
“There is a very real basis for hope, as thousands of displaced people are returning to their villages to rebuild their lives,” he said. “However, courage alone—and there is an abundance of that here—is not enough to generate return on the scale needed, or to make it sustainable.”
 
During his meetings with Government and UN officials and humanitarian partners, Mr. Ging discussed the funding crisis, as well as ways to improve humanitarian access to people in need across the country. 
 
“Humanitarian workers are saving lives every day on the frontline of this forgotten and too-often-dangerous crisis,” said Mr. Ging.