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CAR: Humanitarian response remains largely underfunded despite sharp increase in needs

15 Sep 2017
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Credit: OCHA/Eve Sabbagh

CAR is experiencing the worst displacement crisis since the 2013 catastrophe, when the conflict turned sectarian. In Bangui, the capital, almost 1 million people were forced to flee their homes in search of safety. The recent upsurge of violence has caused a 50 per cent increase in the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in 2017, bringing the total close to 600,000. These people are now spread across the country in 84 IDP sites or with host families, mostly in the south-east.

Armed fighting is engulfing territories that had been relatively stable, including Basse-Kotto, Haut-Mbomou and Mbomou. Over the past 12 months, 8 of CAR’s 16 provinces have been affected by violence, and nearly 70 per cent of the territory is controlled by armed groups. Civilians are forced to live under the constant threat of violence, and 14 of the 16 provinces host people who desperately need humanitarian assistance.

The violence is also affecting humanitarian operations. Since the beginning of the year, humanitarian workers were targeted in more than 200 acts of violence, as recently underlined by the Humanitarian Coordinator, Ms. Najat Rochdi. On 12 September, she condemned the violence that undermines civilians already affected by the conflict.

The Humanitarian Response Plan (revised upwards to reflect the increased needs) requires US$497 million to provide life-saving aid to 1.8 million people in desperate need of assistance. To date, it remains only 30 per cent funded.

The town of Bria was nearly emptied after violent clashes between armed groups, which resulted in more than 40,000 people (out of the 47,000 inhabitants ) fleeing their home to seek safety in displacement sites. Zemio (Haut-Mboumou) has now been abandoned by its inhabitants, as most people have fled to the bush (10,000 people) or to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (10,000 people), which has seen the arrival of more than 65,000 refugees since May. This is the highest number since the peak of the 2013-2014 crisis.

Thanks to relief efforts, more than 75,000 people have access to clean water and health infrastructures in IDP camps in Alindao, Bambari and Kaga Bandoro. Through the Rapid Response Mechanism, more than 100,000 people have received non-food items, and more than 40,000 people have received water, health and sanitation assistance since January. But this is not enough. “The worst can be avoided”, said Ms. Najat Rochdi at the launch of the revised appeal last July as she urged donors to continue their support and redouble their efforts in the CAR .