CAR

Central African Republic: It is necessary to have a different approach to the situation to better protect civilians and improve humanitarian aid

Attachments

  1. Security and humanitarian access

In the CAR, armed groups are split up and proliferate, thus making access to humanitarian aid more complex. Humanitarian workers now find it it difficult to negotiate their acceptance on the field.

Within the ex-seleka armed group : there is for example the emergence of other political and military groups such as the Mouvement Patriotique pour la Centrafrique (MPC) (Patriotic Movement for Central African Republic) born of the split up with the FPRC. Within the antibalaka movement, another coordination led by J. Kokate & M. Mocom has been created. In the North of Paoua, unidentified gunmen from Chad have joined other groups and render security elusive and unpredictable in the North.

Increased pressure on humanitarian convoys and direct attacks on humanitarian workers illustrate the extent to which the security of the humanitarian space and respect for humanitarian principles are becoming essential. From January 2014 to July 2015, 19 aid workers have been killed in the CAR. 272 attacks, including 138 in 2015 against aid workers have been reported. Some main roads are dangerous for humanitarian convoys and workers. In the Ouham division alone, security incidents involving NGOs rose from 23 to 57 between May and August 2015.

2. Continuing humanitarian aid and funding

The number of displaced people is still a cause for concern with a total of 368 859 displaced people within the country and about 466113 refugees in neighbouring countries, this represents almost a quarter of the population of the Central African Republic, excluding displaced people who are in the forest and who are not accounted for. Up to now, about 2.7 million people on a total of 4.6 million are still in need of humanitarian assistance in a conflict that has claimed about 5000 lives. Approximately 1 268 000 people are faced with severe food insecurity according to the Integrated Phase classification (IPC) for food security for the month of April 2015. Less than 25% of the population has access to drinking water. About 2 million people need health care. 1.4 million Children do not have access to education. More than 6000 cases of gender-based violence have been reported and 8000 to 10000 children have links with armed groups.

The current humanitarian context has not changed tremendously, figures and needs are therefore almost still the same and yet the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) is extremely underfunded (45%). Only 18% of the 613 million dollars urgently necessary to meet the needs in 2015 have been disbursed to date.

This year’s level 3 deactivation apparently led to reduced visibility of the financing crisis of humanitarian needs. The HRP does not get half of the funding expected. But, the L3 deactivation did not mean that humanitarian needs in the country had reduced. Structural development needs prior to this crisis add up to humanitarian problems. As such, aid in the CAR should respond to a dual and parallel approach requiring both continuing humanitarian aid in areas still fragile and support to early recovery in areas that are already peaceful.

3. Protection of civilians and the rule of law

The protection of civilians in a context where the State of the Central African Republic is not quite restored and where many localities are still under the control of armed groups is a cause for concern in the CAR. Recent upsurge of violence in the country confirm the vulnerability of civilians in the face of numerous atrocities perpetrated by armed groups. Many internally displaced people on several sites in Bangui run the risk of being displaced again.

The new security landscape of the CAR characterized by widespread carrying of weapons by civilians, the split up of armed groups in militias and gangs, the militarization of vigilante groups and Fulani breeders and the transnationalisation of the dynamics of conflict increasingly render civilians vulnerable. For several weeks now, Chadian and Cameroonian borders have also become pockets of insecurity where many identified or unidentified armed groups operate. Gang members regularly launch raids in villages at the border with Chad. In addition to this environment, there are serious allegations of sexual exploitations and abuses (SEAs) and gross misconduct by blue helmets and other international forces against communities already affected by a crisis.

Currently, the state is reduced to its simplest expression in some town, localities and regions of the country. At presently, very few divisional officers, gendarmes, policemen, judges, doctors, teachers or prosecutors have gone back to their workstations or, for those who have done so, have the means to effectively carry out their work. Access to justice for a major part of the population and impunity remains important issues in CAR especially in a context where housing and other properties were destroyed and illegally occupied

4. Social cohesion and economic recovery

Finally, the CAR’s economy is witnessing a sharp drop because of the violence in recent years. Historically, the country relies on agriculture, animal husbandry and export of mining resources. But, the violence that hit these 3 sectors has led to the disintegration of the social fabric.

The partial lifting by the Kimberly process of the ban on diamond in the West of the country will undoubtedly give a new impetus to the local economy. But, this measure could also be a source of discrimination for the East province that will remain without economic activities, thereby spurring questions on the imbalanced development of the country. Agriculture remains a major stake in a context of conflict where the mostly agricultural areas of the North and West are hit by insecurity, a situation that does not favour the revival of the agricultural sector. The beef trade that was the main source of income for about 300 000 people has been seriously affected by the crisis, thereby disrupting the supply of markets in the country.

Recommendations to the United Nations General Assembly

• With regard to the humanitarian space, we should ensure the adoption, signature, respect and popularization by all stakeholders of civilian and military guidelines in order to guarantee the respect of humanitarian principles and distinction between humanitarian workers and armed forces.

• The international community should maintain and increase its support in terms of human and financial resources to meet the current problems of scarcity of human and financial resources with regard to water distribution, shelter, protection, access to education and health and especially currently food security.

• Given the extreme vulnerability of the civilian population, Members states of the General Assembly should maintain sustained and lasting support to humanitarian operations, generously respond to the humanitarian call in favour of the Central African Republic and provide funds and logistic and technical assistance to contribute to the reconstruction of the country.

• The international community should therefore change its approach on security context in the CAR and recognize that MINUSCA’s mandate and its implementation are not robust enough to control the plethora of armed groups in the country and their effect on civilians.

• The spirit of resolution 2217 divides armed groups in the CAR into 3 categories (former seleka rebels, antibalaka and the LRA) while the current configuration is quite different. The strategy to protect civilians should be proactive and not simply react to atrocities against civilians.

• MINUSCA should establish with the protection cluster priority interventions guidelines where the protection of civilians will be paramount.

• Today, we should raise enough development funds to enable the recovery of the economy of the Central African Republic and especially the restoration of the authority of the state over the entire territory. This will help to put an end to the current impunity and to ensure the reconstruction of the economy.

• Social cohesion should therefore be perceived in the socioeconomic light in the CAR and efforts that have been made to align the West region with requirements of the Kimberly process should also be deployed in the Eastern region of the country.

• Today it is crucial, looking at internally displaced persons and refugees, to promote the conditions for return in all dignity and security. But also, it is necessary to develop reconciliation and social cohesion policies to avoid risks of stigmatization.

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