CAR

Central African Republic needs immediate support to prevent renewed conflict, says UN official

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Stressing the risk that impoverished post-election Central African Republic (CAR) could slide back into conflict if not given immediate aid, a senior United Nations official today said the Government needs help in paying more than three years of salary arrears and in servicing a national debt that is 85 per cent of its gross national product (GNP).

If assistance did not come in fast enough, no good governance reforms would take place beyond the recently completed elections, UN Resident Coordinator Stan Nkwain told the daily news briefing at UN Headquarters in New York. Strikes and mutinies would continue, he said, as would insecurity, vulnerability and human suffering.

The landlocked country, which shares borders with Cameroon, Chad, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the conflict-torn Darfur region of west Sudan, had lost on average six months of life expectancy every year since 1988 and 1.5 per cent of its per capita gross domestic product (GDP) every year since 1995, while 70 per cent of its population lived on less than a dollar a day.

State revenues this year were, for the first time, less than the total needed to pay civil service salaries and the Government was 41 months in arrears with these, so had no personnel available to distribute food, medicines and school materials, improve the broken down health and education infrastructure, or deploy the forces of law and order.

On the other hand, the central Government had completed a return to constitutional rule through transparent elections and had started to show its resolve to fight endemic corruption and to strengthen respect for human rights.

Through the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) the UN was supporting these processes and the Government deserved a chance from partners and the international community in the form of emergency financial assistance to keep the State open for business and to start reversing the economic chaos it had inherited from a military coup in March 2003.