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Concern Worldwide: Humanitarian crisis in Central African Republic needs international response
Concern Worldwide has joined a call by a group of humanitarian organisations for the international community to do more to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Central African Republic (CAR), where an estimated 2.6 million people are in need of assistance.
Since 2013 the country, with a similar population to Ireland, has been in the midst of a civil war, with tensions increasing at the end of 2020 when fighting broke out following presidential and national elections.
One in four Central Africans are either refugees or internally displaced due to conflict, insecurity or flooding, while more than half of the population lack access to a reliable and sufficient source of nutritious food.
“We had to temporarily suspend our programmes at the end of 2020 as a result of the insecurity, we’re back up and running for the last few months but it is still a very volatile environment,” said Pauline Carron, who works with Concern Worldwide and has recently returned from CAR.
“It’s incredibly challenging because when people need to move to escape the violence, they may lose access to their lands. If they can come back, they might have lost what they’ve grown, and if they missed the harvest season, they’re into the lean season without any food reserves. It’s very difficult to survive if they don’t have their own food.”
“As part of our Food Security programmes we distribute food to the very poor and vulnerable. We train farmers, teaching them techniques which will allow them to get the most out of the seeds and tools we provide them with.”
Currently the humanitarian response plan in CAR is only half funded. Concern, along with other international non-government organisations, is calling for the engagement of Central African authorities and donors to ensure the humanitarian response and protection of civilians.
Insecurity and conflict are having an alarming impact on the health system, with repeated attacks on patients, staff, medical assets and infrastructure, disrupting care.
CAR has the worst infant mortality rate in the world and one of the worst maternal mortality rates, with 890 deaths per 100,000 live-births. Plagued by a measles epidemic since 2020, the country has also experienced major malaria epidemics, which remains the leading cause of severe illness. Life expectancy in CAR is among the lowest in the world, with the average Central African reaching just 53 years of age.
“I’ve been involved in focus group discussions with communities about what it is they need. They tell you, it’s water, health services, education and a way to earn an income,” said Ms Carron.
“People are so resilient, but their needs are so high. Some of them are in areas ruled by armed groups, they’re afraid of what the future will bring. They’re afraid of being pushed out of their village by violence. They just want to live in peace and have enough income for their children to get good health care and an education.”
Reported sexual violence is on the rise in CAR and disproportionately affects women and girls. While men account for the majority of the conflict's dead and wounded, women, girls, boys, and people living with disabilities are greatly affected by difficulties in accessing basic social services such as education, sexual and reproductive health care, and nutrition. Women and girls are at a higher risk of abuse when they cannot access health facilities.
Civilians, humanitarian workers, and medical staff have not been spared from the wave of violence. The number of incidents affecting humanitarians between January and June 2021 has increased by 39% compared to the same period last year. Despite the insecurity, humanitarians provided assistance to 25% of the population (approximately 1.2 million people) during the first quarter of 2021.
Concern has been working in Central African Republic since 2014, to provide humanitarian assistance, build the resilience of communities and to alleviate the suffering of conflict-affected communities.
For media queries, contact Hannah Myerson, Senior Communications Officer, Concern Worldwide, at [email protected]
Notes to the Editor
CAR was ranked the hungriest country in the world in the 2019 Global Hunger Index. In the 2020 Human Development Index it was ranked 188th out of 189 countries (ahead of Niger).
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