On 11 July, an armed group entered the hospital in Zemio City, Haut Mbomou Prefecture, and killed a family belonging to a Muslim minority.
The attack follows a series of incidents targeting internally displaced persons from minority groups. Since the end of June 2017, more than 20,000 people have been displaced in Zemio following confrontations and reprisals between armed groups.
"The callousness of this attack highlights both the indiscriminate nature and disturbing escalation in violence in CAR against civilians (...) and signals the diminishing space for aid organizations," said Mia Hejdenberg, Head of the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) mission. "It has also forced the withdrawal of MSF's staff in Zemio, leaving thousands without adequate access to healthcare in the region."
Humanitarian organizations are now withdrawing to the capital, Bangui, due to the deteriorating situation, insecurity and repeated attacks. The crisis is now reaching the same levels as in 2014. At that time, a Level 3 emergency was declared, which is the global humanitarian system’s classification for the response to the most severe, large-scale and complex humanitarian crises.
Virginie Baïkoua, Minister of Social Affairs and National Reconciliation, and Najat Rochdi, Humanitarian Coordinator in CAR, issued a joint statement in reference to the attack. “Such acts are prohibited under international law. This violence seriously hampers humanitarian access, and the latest incidents forced international NGOs—the only providers of health care—to suspend their activities and relocate their staff to a safer place.”
The joint statement also condemned the attacks on the civilian population, which pays the highest price for the armed groups’ destabilizing activities. “With even a temporary suspension of humanitarian activities, more than 20,000 people will be in complete disarray. We call on the instigators of this physical and moral violence to put an immediate end to their criminal activities and to place the interests of the affected people above all other considerations.”
The increased violence is also significantly affecting humanitarian workers. Since the conflict began, one health facility out of four has been destroyed, and one out of two is run by a humanitarian partner. And since January, CAR has witnessed the world’s highest level of violence against humanitarian workers: 30 per cent of all incidents recorded globally by the International NGO Safety Organisation have taken place in CAR.
These incidents are severely hampering humanitarian response on the ground, despite the ongoing efforts to reach thousands of people who desperately need food, clean water, shelter and health supplies.