Critical moment of hope in the Central African Republic jeopardized by severe humanitarian funding shortfall

from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 05 Mar 2012

(Bangui/Geneva/New York, 5 March 2012) The Central African Republic (CAR) faces one of the worst funding shortfalls in the world despite a deteriorating humanitarian crisis, warned OCHA’s Operations Director John Ging at the end of his three-day mission to the country.

“The European Commission has described CAR as the world’s second most vulnerable country after Somalia,” Mr. Ging said. “Simply put, without adequate funding, we are failing the people, particularly the children of the Central African Republic.”

Mr. Ging, who visited CAR from 29 February to 2 March, saw first-hand the appalling humanitarian conditions affecting tens of thousands of people affected by conflict, displacement and poverty.

An estimated 1.9 million people, nearly half the country’s population, need humanitarian aid, and 94,000 people are displaced around the country. Two-thirds of the people in CAR do not have access to clean drinking water or health facilities, with one health worker for 7,000 people. About a third of the children do not have access to primary school education: many are crowded into classrooms with 95 pupils per teacher.

“Funding for basic humanitarian needs is urgently needed,” he said. “Sadly, instead of an increase in funding to keep pace with the growing needs, we are now experiencing a severe reduction.”

A serious decline in funding over the last three years is now affecting the ability to help people in desperate need. Humanitarian organizations working in the country received less than 50 per cent of the required funding in 2011 to provide life-saving aid and longer-term support. So far this year, only 5 per cent of the US$134 million required for 2012 has been received.

During his mission, Mr. Ging travelled to Bamingui-Bangoran in north-eastern CAR, where widespread conflict and violence has led to the displacement of more than 14,000 people in the last few months. He met people who had recently returned to their villages and urgently need support to rebuild their lives.

“There is a very real basis for hope as thousands of displaced are returning to their villages to rebuild their lives,” he said. “However, courage alone - and there is an abundance of that here - is not enough to generate return on the scale needed, or to make it sustainable.”

In the capital, Bangui, Mr. Ging discussed the funding crisis, as well as ways to improve humanitarian access and protection of the most vulnerable people, with Government Ministers, UN officials and humanitarian partners. Minister for Foreign Affairs Antoine Gambi and Defence Minister Jean-Francis Bozizé expressed appreciation and support for the work of the humanitarian community in the country, as well as their commitment to continued partnership with UN agencies and NGOs.

“Humanitarian workers are saving lives every day on the frontline of this forgotten and too often dangerous crisis,” said Mr. Ging. “With the recently brokered ceasefires in conflict-affected areas, we are seeing a very real opportunity for sustainable recovery in the Central African Republic, but this is being jeopardized by the severe shortfalls in humanitarian funding. We must do everything possible to mobilize an urgent re-engagement by the donor community.”

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