The complex humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic is entering its eighth year. Over 580,000 people are internally displaced and 606,000 people are living as refugees outside of the country.1 While 350,000 people returned in 20192 – often to devastated villages – one in five Central Africans has fled conflict. Despite the signing of a peace agreement in early 2019, an estimated 2.6 million people, including 1.2 million children,3 will need humanitarian assistance in 2020, representing 59 per cent of the country's population. Acute needs are expected to increase during the year, from 1.6 million to 1.7 million people, due to continuing violence and destruction, diminishing capacities for resilience, limited access to basic services, underfunding, access constraints and insecurity.4 In 2020, over 49,000 children under 5 years will need treatment for severe acute malnutrition (SAM) – a 14 per cent increase from 2019 – and over 1 million children will lack access to safe water.5 Fifteen per cent of the country’s schools remain closed due to conflict, and half a million children will be out of school.6 Low levels of immunization may give rise to new epidemic outbreaks. Almost 800,000 children will need protection, including from gender-based violence.
Working with partners in the country’s most troubled areas, and using pre-positioned supplies, UNICEF will prioritize child-centered life-saving interventions and risk reduction for crisis-affected, displaced and returning people in the Central African Republic. Working through the Rapid Response Mechanism, UNICEF will conduct assessments on new crises and provide essential household items and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) support to vulnerable people newly affected by shocks. In coordination with partners, UNICEF will provide complementary responses in child protection, health and/or education, as well as follow-up WASH interventions and SAM treatment, using mobile approaches when relevant. Child protection support will include psychosocial support and services addressing gender-based violence and children's release from armed groups and reunification with their families. Out-of-school and other vulnerable children will be supported to access safe learning spaces and quality education. UNICEF will continue to lead the nutrition, WASH and education clusters and the child protection sub-cluster, and work with line ministries to reinforce the Government’s capacity in humanitarian coordination and response, while increasing its focus on accountability to affected populations and cash-based interventions.8 As much as possible, UNICEF will ensure that humanitarian assistance is followed up on with recovery and development-oriented community-based programming.