Anti Balaka fighters at Bangui´s estate PK9Central Africa Central African Republic 

Central African Republic spirals into new crisis

Three years after armed groups in the Central African Republic signed a ceasefire agreement, more than one million people are displaced. “The number of families uprooted from their homes has increased to a level we have not witnessed since the peak of the conflict in 2014,” warned Eric Batonon, Country Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

More than 100,000 people have fled their homes in the Central African Republic since April, due to renewed fighting in several parts of the country. Over 534,000 people are now displaced within the country and another 481,000 are living as refugees in neighbouring countries. Political turmoil and conflict have also left half of the population in need of humanitarian assistance.

“We thought the 2014 ceasefire would bring us peace and social cohesion, but now see the opposite,” Frank Pabingui, a newly displaced father of two, told NRC in Sibut. “I left Bambari to find a safer place, after members of the ex-Seleka [armed group] burnt our house and killed my brother.”

“We need to wake up to the fact that the Central African Republic is again spiralling towards a devastating crisis. Closing our eyes to the current crisis won’t make it disappear, but only allow it to escalate,” said Batonon.

A lack of international attention to the crisis has been matched by a shortage of funding. Halfway into the year, less than 30 per cent of the funding required to meet the humanitarian needs in 2017 has been received.

“There is an urgent need for more funding to ensure people receive the most basic lifesaving assistance. Most of the newly displaced were forced to flee suddenly, leaving everything behind. They need food, clean drinking water, shelter, sanitation facilities and medical care. If we are not able to step up the support now, the dramatic humanitarian situation may fuel further conflicts,” said Batonon.

Three years ago, on 23 July 2014, members of the Seleka and the anti-Balaka armed groups signed a ceasefire agreement, after one and a half years of conflict. The agreement was a first step towards a decrease in hostilities, but many issues remained unsolved. Since November last year, the conflict has again escalated and spread to new parts of the country. In June this year, a peace deal was signed by 13 out of 14 armed groups. The day after the agreement was signed, dozens of people were killed in new clashes in Bria in the east.

“The peace agreement brought hope, but this hope has been shattered by the increase in violence and new displacement during the last weeks,” said Batonon.

“All armed parties should stick to the agreement and work towards a lasting peace in the country. The combination of conflict, under-development, lack of public services like schools and health facilities, and high levels of acute malnutrition becomes a toxic cocktail, claiming too many civilian lives,” he added.

Facts:

  • 534,000 people are displaced within the Central African Republic and 481,000 people are living as refugees in neighbouring countries.
  • More than 2.2 million people need humanitarian assistance, close to half the country´s population.
  • More than 180,000 people face acute malnutrition.
  • Central African Republic ranks 188 out of 188 countries at the human development index.
  • The country also tops NRC’s list of neglected displacement crises: https://www.nrc.no/the-worlds-most-neglected-displacement-crises/ More than 1 out of 10 children die before the age of five and in close to 1 out of 100 childbirths the mother dies.
  • 66 per cent of the population does not have access to drinking water, 25 per cent of the population does not have access to adequate shelter.

There is a 70 per cent funding gap. UN and humanitarian partners have requested almost US$400 million to meet the needs for emergency assistance this year, but has so far received less than $120 million.

Source: OCHA, UNHCR, NRC

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