Photo: ACF-CAR, B. Cichon
Conditions are rapidly and profoundly worsening for the people of Central African Republic. Reports of mass displacement and humanitarian atrocities are accumulating. The numbers are staggering.
The following fact sheet summarizes some of the key figures, amounting to a very serious picture of conditions and a very real need for financial support.
March 2013. A coup by the Séléka, a loose coalition of Muslim rebels, ignited waves of violence that are continuing to cause mass displacement across Central African Republic.
August. A massive outbreak of violence took place in the North-West, resulting in the displacement of 170,800 people in Ouham. This is the worst violent outbreak since the coup in March.
October. Approximately 30,000 people fled clashes between ex-Seleka rebels and armed groups in the North Western region. (Estimate from MSF)
November. As of this date, the picture of displacement is dire*:
- Approximately 400,000 people have been displaced due to rebel attacks.
- Half of the displaced people are children.
- The country’s population is just over 4 million, meaning approximately 10% of the population is now displaced.
- It’s estimated 60,000 refugees have fled to neighbouring countries.
- 1.5 million people are in need of assistance.
(*Estimates from United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA)
In September, OCHA estimated that 737 people have been killed. But this figure does not capture the extent of the atrocities.
The overall health system has been dismantled or is working poorly (with the exception of Bangui). Priorities include access to health care, water and sanitation, nutrition, and general protection.
There are continued reports of gross human rights violations since the Séléka coalition seized power in March. Unicef has reported on the deliberate killing of civilians, acts of sexual violence against women and children, and the destruction and looting of property, including hospitals, schools and churches.
Unicef estimates that as many as 6,000 children are associated with the armed groups.
The efforts to help – what ACF is currently doing
Humanitarian access is limited due to security constraints, especially in rural areas. ACF has been in the Central African Republic since 2006.
ACF efforts in the region are generally focused on nutrition – providing nutritional treatment, implementing preventative malnutrition efforts, support for health care for children with malnutrition and other complicating conditions such as malaria.
In addition, ACF provides emergency response in the refugee camps, including access to clean water, and emergency sanitation and hygiene initiatives.
In rural areas, tactics also involve support for local farmers and key infrastructure support such as repairing water pumps.
The overall goal is to reduce the vulnerability of people affected by the crisis, especially women and children under 5 years in areas where the attacks have hit the hardest.
These efforts are supported by ongoing programs such as strengthening nutritional screening for a better understanding of malnutrition (for improved prevention and treatment) and reducing the negative impact on child development psychological supports.
What is needed now
ACF and other humanitarian NGOs are expressing the need for long-term funding for Central African Republic. The situation is dire, profound and long-lasting. Longer-term donor support will enable ACF to continue current programs and over-come major obstacles including security, logistics, and human resources – for example, sourcing expatriates with experience in emergency insecure environments.
Simply put: more long-term investment is urgently needed to prevent the situation from worsening and improve conditions for this vulnerable population.