Since the December 2020 elections , the Central African Republic (CAR) has witnessed a conflict between the coalition of 6 armed groups (Coalition des Patriotes pour le Changement) and the national forces and their allies.
The clash has led to substantial violence and criminality, triggering new waves of displacement. This has brought the overall number of displaced Central Africans (internally displaced and refugees) to nearly 1.4 million - more than a quarter of the country’s total population.
What are the needs?
In 2021, 57% of the population (2.8 million out of 4.9 million) needs humanitarian assistance. Given the current violence, displaced people urgently need protection assistance. The CAR is also registering many cases of sexual violence against women and girls, and child protection issues (unaccompanied and separated children, forced recruitment).
Adding to the negative socio-economic impact of COVID-19, this new crisis is further aggravating food insecurity in a country already affected by a high prevalence of acute malnutrition.
Humanitarian assessments also continue to show that primary healthcare, water and sanitation, essential household items and shelter remain among the most urgent needs.
Access to education is an acute problem: on 23 February 2021, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and UNICEF reported that 50% of the children in the CAR cannot attend school due to violence. Nearly 1,000 schools cannot operate due to insecurity and armed groups have occupied 26 schools.
The country is considered one of the most dangerous environments for humanitarian workers. OCHA recorded 314 incidents against aid workers (including 2 fatalities) between January and August 2021 - and 267 over the same period just a year ago. Insecurity and the lack of transport infrastructure also hampers humanitarian access.
How are we helping?
Since 2014, the EU and its Member States have been one of the largest donors of humanitarian assistance in the CAR having provided more than €1.4 million in aid funding (OECD).
In 2021, the EU is allocating €21.5 million in humanitarian aid, including €2 million to respond to the increased needs caused by the recent crisis related to the elections.
EU humanitarian aid primarily focuses on covering the needs of the most vulnerable -- uprooted people in the CAR and host communities -- by providing them with:
- food assistance
- emergency shelter
- access to healthcare
- water and sanitation
- short-term livelihood and agricultural support
- education in emergencies.
In addition, the EU supports actions that protect civilians. This includes the prevention of sexual violence, support to victims, and actions offering a protective and educational environment for children.
Some EU-funded projects are also helping to respond to the health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, by providing access to clean water and sanitation for vulnerable people.
With widespread violence and poor infrastructure, reaching people in need in the CAR is both difficult and dangerous. In this context, the EU funds the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) that enables aid workers and assistance to reach insecure and difficult to access places. EU humanitarian funding also supports the security and coordination of humanitarian aid in the country.
The crisis in the CAR has an impact on neighbouring countries. About 709 000 Central African refugees are being hosted mainly in Cameroon, Chad, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Their prolonged stay puts pressure on the local host communities and their already limited resources. The EU delivers humanitarian assistance to host communities and Central African refugees in Cameroon, Chad, and the DRC.
In addition, the European Commission is providing €100 million in humanitarian assistance to support the rollout of vaccination campaigns in countries in Africa with critical humanitarian needs and fragile health systems. At least €10 million of this funding will be supporting vaccination campaigns for the most vulnerable in West and Central Africa.