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UN appeals for aid to help Central Africans break ‘circle of poverty and conflict’

UN appeals for aid to help Central Africans break ‘circle of poverty and conflict’

The United Nations humanitarian wing today appealed for donors to provide another $26 million to support its aid activities in the impoverished Central African Republic (CAR), where more than 200,000 people remain displaced from their homes by persistent conflict and banditry over the past two years.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that the aid programme launched by the UN and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the CAR this year needs $116 million in funding, but has received only $90 million so far.

UN agencies have vastly expanded the number of programmes they provide in the CAR to help the growing numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees now living in neighbouring countries such as Cameroon, Chad and Sudan.

Humanitarian agencies have also strengthened their presence outside the capital, Bangui, by increasing their number of offices from seven just two years ago to 46 this month.

OCHA said the money provided by donors this year has already made “a tremendous difference” to the estimated 1 million people affected by conflict and banditry across the CAR, especially in the north.

“There is a real window of opportunity now to help the Central Africans break the circle of poverty and conflict,” OCHA said. “But the international community needs to show a real and sustained interest in the country.”

Health care, food access to clean water, housing and basic social services are among the priorities for relief workers in the CAR, one of the poorest countries in the world.

About 108,000 IDPs are currently still too scared to return home, with the majority living in the bush outside towns and villages, where they do not have access to food, water and basic social services, after their own villages were attacked by armed groups or bandits.

Some 85,000 have returned to their home villages in the past year and a half, but found many of them to have been largely destroyed as a result of the conflict.