Warning that the political crisis gripping the Central African Republic (CAR) has affected its entire population, United Nations humanitarian chief Valerie Amos and her European Union counterpart today urged the authorities in the strife-torn country to urgently re-establish the rule of law so that assistance and access can continue unimpeded.
“The entire population of 4.6 million people is affected by the crisis. Half of those are children,” said Ms. Amos, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. “The humanitarian needs are huge and increasing, with 1.6 million people in need of assistance,” she added.
Speaking in the capital, Bangui, Ms. Amos said security is a major concern and the UN is working hard to re-establish its presence and programmes in different parts of the country. She also expressed particular concern at the impact of the crisis on women and children.
The dire humanitarian situation in the CAR has been exacerbated by fighting in the past six months which further eroded even the most basic services. Violence erupted in December 2012 when the Séléka rebel coalition launched a series of attacks. A peace agreement was reached in January, but the rebels again seized Bangui in March, forcing President François Bozizé to flee.
Ms. Amos and Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, are on a two-day mission in the CAR to see first-hand the humanitarian situation of the affected people, who are in serious need of food, protection, health care, water and sanitation, shelter and other assistance.
“The authorities in the CAR must urgently re-establish the rule of law so that regular aid streams can be restored,” said Ms. Georgieva. “An estimated 35 per cent of the population is particularly vulnerable and in need of life-saving assistance,” she said, announcing additional funding of €8 million, which brings EU funding to €20 million this year.
“But clearly, the international community needs to do more, and I appeal to everyone to help end the suffering of the people of the Central African Republic,” she said.
The two officials met with the head of the transition, Michel Nondokro Djotodia, and members of the transitional government and urged authorities to guarantee that humanitarian organizations can carry out their programmes.
They also visited a paediatric centre in Bangui which has treated 1,600 malnourished children this year alone. The centre is supported by the EU's humanitarian office ECHO, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Action Contre La Faim (ACF).
“Once again children are the face of a crisis. In CAR, thousands are acutely malnourished, displaced and out of school as a result of the conflict,” said Ms. Amos.
In the first half of 2013, the humanitarian community in CAR has targeted 484,000 people for food assistance and reached 45 per cent of them. About 8,000 people suffering severe acute malnutrition have received treatment and 123,000 children out of 680,000 targeted have been vaccinated against measles.