Two residents of Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic.
Photo: UN Photo/Catianne Tijerina
Our humanitarian assistance in the Central African Republic
There is currently, a humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR). In 2013, the situation deteriorated and, at present, the crisis is one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.
For several decades, the Central African Republic has been marked by serious internal conflicts. The root causes are mainly poverty and frustration among the population due to a failed democratisation process, the lack of development and economic opportunities, the absence of a functioning state and an ongoing power struggle between the political elite. The country has a wealth of natural resources such as oil, gold, diamonds, timber and grazing land, and there are several rebel groups fighting to control these resources.
The security situation deteriorated rapidly in 2013 and 2014. Due to the atrocities and human rights violations that were committed, massive parts of the population moved. In one period, one million people out of a population of 4.8 million were displaced in their own country. Since then, half of these people have fled to the neighbouring countries. It is estimated that 2.2 million people are dependent on humanitarian aid to survive.
In 2016, a presidential election and subsequent change of power were carried out without major unrest. But despite this political stabilisation, the security situation has deteriorated, with attacks on UN troops and organisations. Particularly in rural areas, it is difficult for humanitarian agencies to reach out.
The political instability has turned the Central African Republic into one of the poorest countries in the world and it is ranked 187 out of 188 countries on the UN's Human Development Index. The unrest has led to a sharp decline in agricultural production, cut off trade routes and food shortages. The health care system has basically collapsed and at present, international organisations are the main providers of health care outside of the capital Bangui.
Examples of Sida's support in CAR
Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF): A flexible fund administrated by the UN which advertises funds aimed at different geographical areas or specific needs as the situation in the country changes. The money mainly goes to international non-governmental organisations and in 2016, food and protection have been important focus areas. The latter includes protecting children who are at risk of being sexually abused or being recruited as child soldiers.
UNHCR: More than 400,000 people have fled to the neighbouring countries, mainly to Cameroon, but also DR Congo and Chad. Many refugees live in sparsely populated areas close to the borders and the situation has put a lot of pressure on the host communities. UNHCR works to ensure that refugees are protected from armed conflict, have access to health care, food and clean water, and that children can attend school. To facilitate the refugee's integration into society, UNHCR also works to create more-long term provisions that supply the refugees with an income.
Plan International: Children are among those most vulnerable in a conflict. Many children are suffering mentally because of their experiences during the war, abuse is common, many boys are forced to work, e.g. in diamond mines, instead of going to school and thousands of children have also been forced to join armed groups. Plan International focuses on child protection and education in the south-western part of the country, in part through creating local systems for social support.