Deputy Humanitarian Chief Ursula Mueller, yesterday travelled to northern Central African Republic to see first-hand the impact of the worsening security situation on people in Paoua. Ms. Mueller is on a three-country mission in West and Central Africa.
Clashes between armed groups since the beginning of December 2017 have prompted the displacement of over 65,000 people from peripheral villages to Paoua. The internally displaced persons (IDPs) are living with host communities and have depleted the limited resources that were available in the town.
“I have seen people who are hungry. I call on the international community to support the humanitarian response for Paoua. If we do not receive funding, people will die,” Ms. Mueller said. "Needs are huge not only for the displaced, but also for the local population who are already sharing limited resources in very dire circumstances. Enormous appreciation goes to all humanitarians in Paoua and across the country. They're doing incredible work under very difficult conditions. Targeted attacks prevent them from delivering life-saving assistance. 14 humanitarian workers were killed last year alone. This is unacceptable."
Ms. Mueller noted that “people need to go back to their villages of origin to restart their livelihoods, however, protection remains the major priority for the population”. In her meeting with the President of the Republic, Faustin Archange Touadéra, Ms. Mueller underlined the deteriorating humanitarian situation and the need to step up efforts aimed at protecting people. She shared with the president the need for security as expressed by IDPs in Paoua, to help them return to their villages of origin.
During her visit in CAR, Ms. Mueller has underscored the need for humanitarians and development organisations, the Government and the UN Mission to work together through joined planning and analysis to maximize impact and to support durable return of IDPs. She reassured the president of her commitment to continue to advocate for more funding for humanitarian activities in CAR. The country’s 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan requires some US$516 million to meet the needs of 1.9 million people in dire need of health, protection and food assistance. Since 2014, funding for humanitarian programmes in CAR have been woefully underfunded. Last year's Humanitarian Response Plan was only 39 per cent funded.
Stories of strength and dignity
Depite the hardship and daily challenges, the people of Paoua are showing their resilience and dignity. "In Paoua today, I had the opportunity to hear from some amazing women. Their strength and dignity, despite the incredible hardships they are facing, is admirable. They want safety, peace, and schools. What any mother wants for their children".
Ivonne recently fled to Paoua due to violence. She now helps represent those that are displaced like her. Veronique also fled with her 6 kids when her husband was killed. They are just 2 of 65,000 recently displaced people, all in just one city.
Philomene (left) was the mayor of her town, Betoko, before having to flee to Paoua due to violence. Esther (right), told Ms. Mueller stories of how much she suffered, struggling to get food, health, education. "They are proud, brave women, who just want to be able to go back home", Ms. Mueller said.
Photos: OCHA/Vanessa May