December 12, 2013
Recent clashes in the Central African Republic have caused 47,000 people to be uprooted from their homes. The City of Bossangoa, already critically struggling from the humanitarian crisis, has become overwhelmed by the needs of internally displaced people (IDPs), requiring urgent response. Humanitarian organization Action Against Hunger (ACF) is responding with increased activities, particularly in terms of access to water and sanitation in IDP camps.
Currently ACF has two IDP camps supporting the grand majority of displaced persons in Bossangoa, the largest city in Northwest Central African Republic, 300 km from the capital Bangui. Afraid for their lives, 40,000 Christians from Bossangoa and the surrounding villages have gathered around the Archdiocese of the city over the last two months. The small Archdiocese is not equipped for this influx of people, occupying less than 10 acres.
In another area of the city, about 1,600 people (mostly Muslim families) have taken haven in an IDP camp beside the Liberté School. Violence in the surrounding area peaked on December 5, causing the entire Muslim community of the city to flee. Suddenly the small site was packed with 6,400 people who are seeking protection and assistance from Action Against Hunger humanitarian relief teams.
Alexis Ottenwalter, Field Manager for ACF in Bossangoa, expresses concern: “two weeks ago, our teams were working without issue at the Liberté camp: it was a small site, and efficiently run. With the latest fighting that has raged through the area, there has been a massive influx of people and there is too much pressure on such a small area”.
Water is a major concern. With only one water point for the whole camp, the Liberté School is far exceeding its capacity. In response, Action Against Hunger has installed a new 20,000 litre water tank and has coordinated with other aid agencies to re-organize the site so that it can continue to accommodate people seeking safety.
Sanitation is another top priority for ACF, which is currently focused on building and maintaining latrines, managing wastewater drainage, and implementing waste management systems. These steps are critical to prevent the break out of epidemics and other health concerns. At the moment, it is not safe for traumatized families to return home. Creating a safe, hygienic environment within the camps is essential.
Meanwhile, due to the fighting and instability of the area, humanitarian organizations must proceed with extreme caution. Forced to suspend all activities for three days because of heavy weapon fire, ACF was able to resume operations on Sunday, December 8, with enhanced security operations in place.
Even if peace is slowly returning to Bossangoa, instability throughout the country continues to pose obstacles of access. The transport and delivery of materials, such as drilling equipment, from the capital to Bossangoa, is not an easy task. Together with other leading humanitarian agencies, ACF will continue to work through logistical challenges to ensure safety for those who need it the most.
Action Against Hunger in Central African Republic
Action Against Hunger has been present in the Central African Republic without interruption since 2006. In a country where the health system disintegrated after years of economic stagnation, the health crisis is unprecedented. It is estimated that at least 1.5 million people are in serious need of humanitarian assistance. ACF arrived at the Archdiocese camp in Bossangoa in early November 2013, and is also active in Bangui and in Kémo. ACF has not left the country since the crisis started over a year ago.
For more information or to speak with an ACF contact:
Camille DePutter, Director of Communications
Action Contre la Faim | Action Against Hunger Canada
416.644.1016 x 6/ email@example.com