2017 IN REVIEW
Humanitarian situation in 2017
The year 2017 was characterized by a series of crises that has led to an unprecedented increase in humanitarian needs since 2014. It also raises the risk of a return to a major humanitarian crisis. While the 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan initially targeted to 2.2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, the humanitarian community was forced to revise it in June 2017 to meet the needs of 2.4 million people. Of the 402,240 displaced in January, the Central African Republic registered 600,000 as of July 31, 2017, as much as in August 2014. This trend continued and reached the 688,700 at the end of December, representing 71 per cent increase in one year. At the same time, 545,497 Central Africans sought refuge in neighbouring countries, while the trend was to return in early 2017. Today, 1.1 million people or 1 out of 4 Central Africans are internally displaced or refugees.
This increase was the result of the resurgence of violence and the multiplication of hotspots across the country. Some areas previously known as islands of relative stability have shifted into violence and others that tended to return to calm have fallen back into instability. Growing insecurity due to activism of armed groups has increased tensions and heightened the vulnerability of communities already affected by the ongoing humanitarian crisis, forcing thousands of people to leave their homes and seek protection – often around MINUSCA bases and bigger agglomerations – throughout the country.
Impact of violence on humanitarian activities
2017 has also been one of the deadliest years for humanitarians. Security incidents involving aid workers have increased considerably (332 in 2017 against 131 in 2016), placing the Central African Republic among the most dangerous countries in the world. Fourteen humanitarian workers lost their lives in 2017 (6 in 2016). The multiple peaks of violence have also forced humanitarian workers to temporarily suspend their activities on several occasions, and sometimes to relocate their teams. The United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) relocated 297 humanitarian actors from 29 organizations on 23 occasions.
These suspensions, driven by unprecedented levels of insecurity since 2013, have exacerbated the vulnerability of thousands of people whose survival depends heavily on humanitarian assistance. In Bangassou the majority of humanitarian actors had to suspend their activities and withdraw their permanent presence from the city. The same goes for the city of Batangafo (Ouham Prefecture) where humanitarian actors have been trying to return since early December after the majority of them had to withdraw in September. At 60 kilometers from Batangafo, in the city of Kabo, in December 2017, the cessation of humanitarian activities directly or indirectly affected approximately 100,000 people, including displaced persons.
Restriction of humanitarian access
The reduction of humanitarian space was the result of several factors, including the deterioration of the security situation and the deterioration of road infrastructure throughout the country. Access to certain areas required large-scale logistical and operational resources that were partly lacking for a humanitarian community faced with the growing challenge of underfunding. The increased use of air assets for the delivery of humanitarian assistance was necessary to reach remote populations. Despite these significant constraints, humanitarian workers were able to deliver more than 6,700 tons of humanitarian assistance cargo, by road and by air, from January to September 2017. Despite its prohibitive price, several times, the actors had to give priority to the air route to help the populations inaccessible by terrestrial means and more and more isolated.
Underfunded humanitarian crisis
The Central African Republic is one of the few countries in the world where half of the population needs humanitarian assistance. Adequate funding of humanitarian action was therefore a top priority. However, by the end of 2017, only 39 per cent of the $ 497 million Humanitarian Response Plan was funded of which $22.1 million (11.5% of the 2017 HRP funding) channeled through the CAR HF. Despite this deficit, the humanitarian community was able to provide emergency assistance to more than one million vulnerable people. Over the last years, funding levels have steadily declined from 68 per cent in 2014 (right after the December 2013 outbreak), to 39 per cent in 2017. In this context of chronic humanitarian underfunding, recovery funds were also slow to be materialized on the ground. Surveys in the affected areas revealed alarming socio-economic indicators signs at the end of 2017. The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance was estimated at 2.5 million (54%) out of a population of 4.6 million. The overall socio-economic situation of the country is alarming with: 70% of households having no access to potable water, 80 per cent without latrines, 50 per cent in need of food assistance, 20 per cent of schools closed depriving around 70,000 children of education, and an average acute malnutrition rate reaching the emergency threshold of 15 per cent in six health sub-prefectures of the country. The ability of humanitarian actors to respond to critical and urgent needs has been hampered. Regrettably, the needs continued to grow over the years aggravating dangerously the vulnerability of those already affected by the crisis.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.