UN: Largest forgotten humanitarian crisis looms in CAR

UN refugee agency sounds alarm as number of people in need of aid reaches 2.7 million amid continued fighting.

Peacekeeping troops escort a humanitarian aid convoy in Bangui,
UN Security Council has approved keeping a peacekeeping force in Central African Republic for another year [File: EPA]

The humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic is in danger of becoming the largest forgotten humanitarian crisis, the UN refugee agency has said.

Almost 900,000 people from the country have been forcibly displaced, both to neighbouring countries and internally, by ongoing fighting in the country since December 2012, the UNHCR said in a statement on Monday. An estimated 2.7 million people are in need of aid in CAR and in its neighbouring countries, it said.

CAR crisis at a glance

Total population:  4.6 million
Total people in need of humanitarian assistance:  2.7 million

Internal Aid Cost
Received:  $85m 

Internal Aid Deficit: $528m

Regional Aid Cost
Received: $29m 

External Aid Deficit:   $302.2

Total Aid deficit:  $830.2m

– Source: UNHCR

“We must prevent the Central African republic from becoming a forgotten crisis,” said Claire Bourgeois, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in the CAR said.

“The current funding for the strategic humanitarian response does not allow us to ensure the protection of all these displaced persons or to provide the minimum of what is needed to meet the huge humanitarian needs.”

Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in March 2013, overthrowing then president Francois Bozize who responded with reprisal attacks by Christian anti-Balaka fighters.

Lack of funding

The statement by the UN agency comes just days ahead of a forum bringing together the key stakeholders in the crisis: the armed groups, trade unions, media, displaced people, employers, political parties, platform of religious organisations and the Muslim community.

With the humanitarian crisis in the country largely underfunded, it is likely to take precedence at the forum in the country’s capital, Bangui, commencing on May 4.

A total of almost $613m in relief aid is required inside the country and $331.2m outside the country. Thus far, only $85m has been received for internal aid and $29m for external aid. 

The country’s humanitarian aid deficit is $830.2m, according to the UNHCR.

Separately, the UN Security Council has approved keeping a peacekeeping force in the CAR for another year due to the continuing violence in the country.

The council in March approved a resolution authorising an additional 1,030 military and police personnel for the nearly 12,000-strong peacekeeping force.

A transitional government is supposed to be organising elections for August this year, but instability threatens that goal.

United Nations and French troops are currently trying to stabilise the impoverished and landlocked country.

infographic central african republic humanitarian crsiis unhcr un car
Source: News Agencies