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CAR: One month later, Bria remains a ghost city

07 Jul 2017
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Bria remains a ghost city one month after it endured violent clashes between armed groups. More than 40,000 people (out of the 47,000 inhabitants of the city) have fled their home to seek safety in different sites for internally displaced persons (IDPs).

These people are now in desperate need of food, clean water, shelter and health supplies. Humanitarian partners have rapidly implemented a response system to address these critical needs, but one month later many gaps remain due to the overwhelming levels of displacement and renewed clashes. Goods were swiftly pre-positioned and ready to be sent to Bria, but this was delayed due to high insecurity and the poor road infrastructure.

The IDPs are spread across six displacement sites, but they are living in deplorable conditions. On the main site, PK3, located around the MINUSCA base, more than 23,000 people share 17 hectares. They lack proper protection, sanitation and access to health services. Humanitarian partners are slowly receiving the materials needed to build shelters, latrines and showers.

Women at the site are particularly vulnerable due to the presence of people involved with armed groups. The presence of armed elements in the site challenges protection efforts and the implementation of proper mechanisms to safeguard women and girls, who are most at risk of abductions and sexual violence.

Atrocious intra-communal crimes have been shattering communities, forcing thousands of people to flee violence. To date, over 500,000 remain internally displaced. “Any attack on religious or ethnic grounds is an attack against humanity and the universal values that unite us all and should no longer have a place in the Central African Republic where we seek to heal the wounds of the past”, said UN Humanitarian Coordinator Najat Rochdi in her last statement. “Such attitudes must be eradicated in order to give the people a chance to regain peace and rebuild their lives and those of future generations.”

Since the start of the yet a new crisis last May, 167 unaccompanied children have been registered in Bria. They are placed with host families and receive psychosocial support. In June, three child friendly spaces are operational. 1 567 children have been supervised. So far this year, close to 10,000 children have dropped out of school.

At the beginning of June, food rations covering 10 days were distributed to IDPs. The level of insecurity prevents farmers from resuming agricultural activities. Food prices are already high, while the variety of goods has reduced. In the Central African Republic (CAR), food insecurity affects at least 28 per cent of the population. More than 180,000 people face acute malnutrition, and chronic malnutrition is widespread in almost all parts of the country, with about 364,000 children affected.

Despite the desperate needs, there is a staggering 70 per cent funding gap. At the beginning of the year, the humanitarian community requested almost US$400 million to address the needs of 1.6 million people in CAR. However, only $120 million has been received to date.

Photos: OCHA/Yaye Nabo Sene