(Bangui, 12 March 2013) - Over 1.5 million people in Central African Republic (CAR) are facing a humanitarian crisis as a result of the Séléka offensive that was launched on 10 December 2012. The rebel coalition now controls over two thirds of the country, home to over 1.5 million people or 34 per cent of the country’s population. The Séléka’s latest advance to the southern town of Bangassou has cut off a major hub for humanitarian actors’ access to the Southeast, affecting 300,000 people already suffering from six years of LRA attacks.
Access to people in need remains critical. Since the beginning of the crisis in December, humanitarian access has been limited to about 33 per cent of the areas under Seleka control. It is estimated that over 175,000 people are internally displaced and that over 29,000 have taken refuge in neighbouring Chad and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). More are expected to flee Bangassou for DRC. “The protection for the civilian population is of utmost importance and I call on all parties to the current crisis to respect the terms of the Libreville Agreements of 11 January 2013 and to respect international humanitarian law and principles as well as human rights,” said Kaarina Immonen, the Humanitarian Coordinator for the CAR. “All actors should ensure that humanitarian access is secured for all aid workers providing lifesaving assistance to all in need,” Mrs. Immonen added.
Without sustained humanitarian presence and response in the field, the situation will further worsen as the rainy season approaches. The humanitarian situation is worrisome especially in the Seleka-controlled area. Over 80,500 people are estimated to be at risk of severe food shortage during the 2013 lean season in this area, while 13,500 children under five will suffer from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM). Schools are still not functioning and 166,000 children do not have access to education.
CAR launched a humanitarian appeal for over US$129 million prior to the December events. A current crisis response plan is being finalized to seek additional funding for the response to the current crisis. CAR is calling on donors to provide urgently needed lifesaving support to aid partners in response to the massive humanitarian needs in the CAR.
CAR has suffered from years of politico-military conflict and instability and is made highly vulnerable by the lack of development in the interior of the country, where the absence of basic social services has required a continuous humanitarian response.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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