Humanitarian community strongly condemns the killing of a humanitarian worker in CAR
Outgoing Humanitarian Coordinator last message on key relief issues
Emergency Funds help rural residents to rebuild their lives better
Humanitarian partners repair roads and bridges as poor infrastructure continue to impede access to some regions of CAR
Interview: “Central Africans need now to get together and start rebuilding their country in peace and tolerance”
For almost two years, Aurélien Agbénonci was the Humanitarian Coordinator in the Central African Republic (CAR). Before leaving his post, he spoke with us about relief issues and concerns at a time when CAR is facing a rare opportunity for peace.
Q: You took the post when violence spiked in the crisis. CAR is now emerging from three years of terrible unrest with a new Government. However, humanitarian needs remain enormous, and the crisis is one of the worst in the world. What will be the humanitarian impact of the elections?
The recent elections give us a chance to improve the humanitarian situation for the most vulnerable people. I congratulate the people of CAR for undertaking the successful electoral process in a peaceful atmosphere.
The election is a key step to end years of violence and gives us hope for stability and peace. I think that, with improved security, internally displaced people and refugees may eventually consider to return. This can happen, however, only if they feel that their safety will be guaranteed and their rights respected, enabling them to rebuild their lives and livelihoods. A peaceful scenario will also enable human rights to be better safeguarded and aid delivered more extensively.
Q: Following the latest allegations of UN troops being involved in sexual abuse, what is the humanitarian community doing to address sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) in CAR?
Humanitarian organizations have signed a code of conduct against SEA. In this document, the humanitarian community strongly condemns SEA and re-iterates its zero tolerance policy. The code of conduct includes a commitment to the centrality of protection and accountability with affected populations. Within this framework, humanitarian organizations in CAR commit to respect six core principles: protect the affected population; do no harm; accountability towards the people affected; participation of the population in decisions affecting them; systematic engagement with the people affected; and the establishment of a feedback mechanism enabling the affected population to voice their concerns confidentially and transparently. The signatories oblige their respective organizations to respect these principles both in their programmatic and behavioral dimensions of humanitarian assistance. We also ensure that inquiries are held for all allegations of abuses by humanitarian actors and follow-up action is taken.
Q: With many other major crises around the world, do you feel the world has forgotten CAR?
I wouldn’t say the world has forgotten CAR. Clearly, competing crises have negatively impacted the funding situation here. We are feeling it now as humanitarian needs continue to exceed our resources by far. A total of US$531 million is urgently needed to meet the most basic needs for this year, as outlined in the 2016 Humanitarian Response Plan. Failing to meet the most critical humanitarian needs could undermine the broader peacebuilding and stability-building agenda. It is critical that while CAR remains high on the security and political agenda, it remains equally high in the humanitarian and development spheres. More funding is critical to allow us to do all we can, to prevent another humanitarian crisis that could undermine the gains we have made, and to put CAR on the right track towards a more prosperous and peaceful future.
Q: Do you have a message for the next Humanitarian Coordinator?
It is important to support national priorities and national ownership for development. It’s only by doing this that we will be able to contribute to a more prosperous, durable country. This is a unique moment and we should not miss this opportunity. Building recovery and stability requires long-term support, while there is also a need to provide life-saving assistance to 2.3 million people in need and to the many refugees in neighbouring countries.
Q: What would you say have been some of the humanitarian successes in CAR over the past year?
In 2015, the humanitarian community in CAR provided life-saving assistance to an estimated 2.7 million people in need. We ran education activities to 70,000 displaced children. More than 503,000 people have received emergency food assistance and about 110,000 people gained access to drinkable water. We have other success stories in the protection sector, having demobilized 5,600 boys and girls associated with armed groups.
We are now starting their reintegration back into civilian society. Though it is complicated to operate in CAR, these activities have had a critical impact on people’s lives. I must emphasize that the humanitarian community, which I represent, remains firmly committed to stay and deliver assistance to the affected population.
Q: What will you miss the most about CAR?
It has been an exceptional time to be in CAR at this historical juncture and I think we are on the right track. Central Africans need now to get together and start rebuilding their country in peace and tolerance.
The humanitarian community condemns the killing of a humanitarian worker
On 18 May, a well-identified MSF convoy of two vehicles was directly attacked by armed men in Kouki, 82 km north of Bossangoa (Ouham province). The vehicles were transporting staff and patients who were forced out of the cars and robbed of personal belongings and medication. In the course of the attack, one of the drivers was shot and killed. The Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien was shocked and saddened to learn about the deplorable attack against a humanitarian convoy. He expressed his deepest condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of the deceased. Furthermore, the Humanitarian Coordinator a.i. in CAR, Mr. Kouassi Lazare Etien, strongly condemned the killing and urged all parties to ensure that those providing humanitarian assistance can safely access people in need and conduct their activities without hindrance. At least 20 aid workers have been killed since December 2013.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.