A protracted protection crisis with a surge in violence and humanitarian needs on the rise
The Central African Republic (CAR) has been plagued by serious instability since 2013 with dramatic humanitarian consequences. 2016 started on a hopeful note with the inauguration of a democratically elected President in March, bringing to an end a two-year political transition period, and a relative stability during the first half of the year. However, insecurity remained a serious concern and manifestations of violence (intercommunal clashes, transhumance movements, conflicts between armed groups and attacks on civilians) saw a sharp increase from May 2016 in several parts of the country and remain unabated at the beginning of 2017.
These outbreaks of violence have caused new displacements and impeded displaced people to return despite a timid trend observed at the end of 2015. The presence of armed groups operating in large areas of the territory prevented the State to redeploy and hampered the humanitarian community to respond. Many prefectures were strongly affected creating persistent insecurity, notably in the Ouham, Ouham-Mpende, Nana-Gribizi, Ouaka, Haute-Kotto and Haut-Mbomou prefectures. The protection of civilians remained a serious concern as large violations of human rights were registered. This renewed crisis has had a further devastating impact on social coexistence and increased the vulnerability of population in large parts of the country.
The conflict affected not only civilians but also humanitarian actors and their properties: humanitarian staff were attacked even killed or injured, their premises burnt and assistance looted. Humanitarian space has been severely curtailed despite ongoing advocacy carried out to maintain access to vulnerable populations. Humanitarian partners have not only been hindered to carry out their programs, in many cases, due to insecurity, they were forced to reduce or suspend their activities in bringing vital assistance, both in host communities and displaced. This situation was aggravated by access issues linked to logistic concerns with roads in poor condition making the provision of assistance even more difficult.
Enormous critical humanitarian needs vs. a neglected humanitarian concern on the global level
In 2016, more than 2.2 million people, almost half of the total population, required humanitarian assistance out of which 1.9 million requiring urgent assistance. Humanitarian actors have been the lifeline in providing basic social services and emergency assistance to the population. At the beginning of 2016, there were 435,165 internally displaced persons (IDPs). While at the end of August 2016, the number of IDPs had decreased to 385,750 persons at the same time, the number of refugees in neighboring countries increased. Towards the end of the year, the surge in violence led to a rise in the number of displaced people to 420 681.
Most basic social services remained dysfunctional or non-existent in many parts of the country. By April 2016, 25 % of all schools in the Central African Republic were non-functional and children, especially in rural areas, have lost more than two years of education. By year end, 40 % of the population was experiencing acute food insecurity, and the prevalence of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) continued to be above the emergency threshold (2%) in several parts of the country. Only 30 % of the rural population had access to protected water points, and three out of four people had no access to sanitation facilities. CAR also faced a cholera outbreak in September fortunately quickly controlled thanks to the rapid mobilization and effective coordinated response. A rabies epidemic remained a concern.
Despite severe and urgent humanitarian needs, and joint efforts from the humanitarian community, CAR was not high on the agenda of the international community. Contributions through the HRP have decreased continually since 2014. From 2014 to 2016, the HRP received respectively 68.2 %, 53.5 % and 37.9 % of requested funds. In this context of chronic underfunding, urgent needs in vital sectors such as protection, shelter and non-food items, WaSH, health, food security, nutrition and logistics remained uncovered. In parallel, efforts to strengthen early recovery and stabilization activities initiated towards the end of the year with the launch of the RCPCA (the National Plan for Recovery and Peacebuilding), needed further efforts to be operationalized on the ground.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.