In Central African Republic, Access and Aid Delivery Are Growing Challenges
On December 5, 2013, French armed forces entered the Central African Republic with a tall order--to implement a United Nations resolution to disarm the perpetrators from numerous violent groups. One year later, the nation remains plagued by gun violence. The ambitious goal of disarmament has not materialized. Outbreaks of violence are still frequent. Residents of some districts in the capital city, Bangui, live under constant threat of attack. Additional provinces throughout the country suffer from rival group clashes and high levels of criminal gang activity. The first victims of this violence have always been and remain civilians--individuals, families, and communities living in fear. The humanitarian consequences are alarming, with some 2.5 million people in dire need of assistance. Food insecurity, undernutrition, and lack of access to safe water are the biggest issues. Nearly 30 percent of the nation's population is currently moderately or severely food insecure--that's some 1.4 million people. In addition, victims of and witnesses to violence are suffering from stress and psychological trauma that require specific care.
A challenging aid context
In this context, accessing the population and delivering aid are growing challenges. The work that Action Against Hunger and our humanitarian colleagues are undertaking is increasingly hampered by armed groups who interfere. This increased insecurity for aid workers is also due in part to a confusion of roles between military and humanitarian actors. We're currently running programs in multiple locations across the Central African Republic, including Bangui, Bossangoa, and Sibut. We maintain neutrality, serving as impartial and independent of any party involved in the crisis. We seek to help all vulnerable populations in the country.
Issues that cross borders
Indeed the help is needed there, and beyond borders too. While there are 430,000 citizens who are internally displaced from their homes, almost as many--420,000--are seeking refuge in neighboring countries. More than 250,000 of them have crossed into Cameroon. So we opened a new mission there in July. Our teams are providing assistance not only to the displaced and traumatized, but also to the host communities that are burdened with an influx of temporary residents. Pressure on existing resources is building, and water points are proving insufficient. Sanitation and hygiene are becoming harder to manage. Along the Cameroon/Central African Republic border, we're implementing both fixed and mobile programs as part of an emergency response that covers nutrition, mental health, and water, sanitation, and hygiene. We will remain in the region as long as necessary, working hard to manage the humanitarian situation until, we hope, the displaced and refugees may return home.