Central African Republic

Situation Report

Highlights

  • The threat of explosive devices continues to increase in the Central African Republic: at least 15 civilians killed between January and October 2021.
  • Humanitarian actors assisted 1.4 million people in CAR during the first half of 2021 in an increasingly volatile security context.
  • The number of food insecure people increased again, reaching 2.6 million - 57 per cent of the population.
  • CAR remains one of the most dangerous places for humanitarians with 344 incidents affecting them between January and September 2021.
Mwala Georgette, 24, holds her baby boy, Kuri Isai, nine-months old by a church used to shelter families displaced due to the latest wave of unrest on March 17, 2021 in the capital Bangui. ©OCHA/Siegfried Modola, Bangui, CAR, 2021.
Mwala Georgette, 24, holds her baby boy, Kuri Isai, nine-months old by a church used to shelter families displaced due to the latest wave of unrest on March 17, 2021 in the capital Bangui. ©OCHA/Siegfried Modola, Bangui, CAR, 2021.

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Central African Republic

Situation Report

Key Figures

4.9M
Population
2.8M
People in need of humanitarian assistance
1.84M
People targeted for assistance in 2021
1.6M
People assisted in 2020
2.6M
Food-insecure people
722K
Internally displaced people (30 Sep 2021)
709K
Central African refugees
11518
COVID-19 cases
100
COVID-19-related deaths

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Central African Republic

Situation Report

Funding

$444.8M
Required
$271.1M
Received
61%
Progress
FTS

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Contacts

Vedaste KALIMA

Head of Office

Maxime NAMA CIRHIBUKA

Head of Public Information

Anita CADONAU

Reporting Officer

Central African Republic

Situation Report
Emergency Response
An internally displaced woman selling cassava sticks, the main staple in the Central African Republic, at a site for displaced people in Batangafo. ©OCHA/Adrienne Surprenant, Batangafo, Ouham Prefecture, CAR, 2020.
An internally displaced woman selling cassava sticks, the main staple in the Central African Republic, at a site for displaced people in Batangafo. ©OCHA/Adrienne Surprenant, Batangafo, Ouham Prefecture, CAR, 2020.

Alarm bells in the face of soaring food insecurity

The Central African Republic is a fertile country. It rains abundantly, the soil is rich and a variety of crops, fruits and vegetables grows almost year-round. Despite this apparent abundance, one in every two people does not have enough to eat.

The reason is the conflict that has again intensified since the beginning of the year. The number of internally displaced people has never been as high since 2014 as over the past months, now reaching 691,000. People live in fear of attacks and exactions by armed groups, which limits their mobility and access to fields and forests to cultivate, gather and hunt. The dangerous environment further restricts humanitarian organizations from reaching people in need. One of the results is the continued deterioration of food security since last year.

A sombre picture

Indicators projecting nutrition and food security for the lean season from April to August were already sombre but have again worsened in July.

In April, the Central African Republic reported the second highest number of people in critical food insecurity in West and Central Africa – the emergency phase, according to the global standard classification of acute food insecurity. By July, this figure had increased by 58 per cent compared to April, reaching 1 million people in critical food insecurity.

Monitoring data suggest that in July, overall 2.6 million people or 57 per cent of the Central African population did not have enough to eat. Of the 1 million people in an emergency situation concerning their food consumption, 250,000 were on the brink of famine. And to make the situation even worse, these people were largely inaccessible to humanitarian workers.

An urgent appeal

The Food Security Cluster, that unites humanitarian actors working in the sector, is sounding the alarm bells in the face of soaring food insecurity and malnutrition in the Central African Republic. Unless the humanitarian response is scaled up immediately, more than 2 million people will be food insecure by September; of them, 900,000 will remain in the emergency phase and at least 250,000 will likely fall into famine.

With no end of the conflict in sight, the vast majority of conflict-affected people will continue to rely on humanitarian assistance in the coming months. Without safe, sustained and unimpeded humanitarian access to the areas of highest food insecurity, a quarter million people will slip into a food security disaster.

The food sector now urgently requires US$22.5 million to provide life-saving full ration food assistance for 3 months for the 250,000 people at the highest risk of a catastrophic food situation, including to assist those in hard-to-reach areas by air. Only half of the country’s Humanitarian Response Plan 2021 is currently funded. The lack of resources in light of the population’s soaring needs has already forced the World Food Programme (WFP) to reduce monthly food assistance to a 20-day ration.

Malnutrition among children

In July, 80,000 children below the age of 5 were at risk of severe acute malnutrition (SAM), a 29 per cent-increase since the end of 2020. The risk of SAM is particularly high for displaced children and those in locations affected by conflict, where access to food, clean water, health care and nutrition services has been severely restricted and food prices have skyrocketed. Across the country, 395,000 children younger than 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition – 40 per cent of all children in this age group, a rate considerably above the emergency threshold of 30 per cent. Inadequate nutrition over a long period of time disrupts their growth. Acute malnutrition represents a major public health problem and is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in young children.

Linking access restrictions

Humanitarian monitoring systems indicate a direct link between conflict, growing access challenges and the sharp increase in food insecurity. Safe and unhindered humanitarian assistance to areas in the northwest, notably Ouham and Ouham-Pendé Prefectures, and the south-eastern Basse-Kotto, Haut-Mbomou and Mbomou Prefectures is hampered by active conflict, shifting frontlines and the presence of explosive devices. These same factors limit access to fields, the mobility of migrant herders and the supply of markets. The rainy season from April to October further restricts humanitarian organizations’ ability to deliver assistance at scale and at an affordable price by road.

What is being done

During the first half of 2021, 1.29 million people received life-saving food or nutrition assistance from humanitarian partners. But humanitarian access remains very restricted, if not impossible, in various locations in Ouham-Pendé, Haut-Mbomou, Basse-Kotto and Ouaka Prefectures.

During the current agricultural season, 60,900 food insecure households of 305,000 people are receiving urgent support to re-establish agricultural livelihoods through the distribution of seeds and tools, re-stocking of fast-maturing livestock and cash transfers.

In June, the World Bank approved a US$50 million grant to boost food production and build the resilience of food insecure smallholders and households in the Central African Republic. This financing will provide much needed support to more than 465,000 food insecure small farmers through cash-for-work activities, while rehabilitating small-scale agricultural infrastructure in six prefectures in the west and centre of the country and the capital Bangui.

Investing in long-term solutions

Humanitarian partners are also investing in more sustainable solutions for the prevention and management of malnutrition, including the promotion of nutritious foods, good feeding practices for infants, children and pregnant and breastfeeding women and multisectoral response related to the provision of quality basic social services, including water, sanitation and hygiene, health care and protection.

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Central African Republic

Situation Report
Trends
A peacekeeper is analysing a location where explosive devices were found in April on the Bocaranga-Bouar road in the west. ©MINUSCA, CAR, 2021.
A peacekeeper is analysing a location where explosive devices were found in April on the Bocaranga-Bouar road in the west. ©MINUSCA, CAR, 2021.

The ever-growing threat of explosive devices

Accidents involving explosive ordnance have taken on increasing proportions since mid-April 2021, particularly in the west of the Central African Republic, a region where conflict has intensified.

An alarming rise

Between January and October 2021, over 30 incidents involving explosive devices claimed the lives of 15 civilians, including children, and injured 24 others in Nana-Mambéré, Mambéré-Kadei, Ouham-Pendé and Ouaka prefectures. The deaths took place exclusively in the west of the country.

On September 9, the vehicle of a team from the Danish Refugee Council NGO in the midst of humanitarian activities in Ouham-Pendé hit an explosive device, killing one of its staff and injuring three others. A group of Paoua residents traveling on motorcycles on 3 October on the Ndim-Paoua axis hit an explosive device causing the death of five people, including a child. On 22 June, four people were killed by the detonation of an explosive device between Garba and Bakari villages, 115 km from Bouar in the Nana-Mambéré Prefecture. On 20 June, a herder and several of his cattle were killed by the detonation of a device west of Amada-Gaza in the Mambéré-Kadéï Prefecture, and on 12 June, three people were allegedly killed in the border region with Chad in the Ouham Pendé Prefecture.

Fearing for their safety, the inhabitants of Nguia in the southwest of Bouar in Nana-Mambéré, estimated at a thousand people, fled across the border to Cameroun after a device exploded in their village on 28 May. Since the incident, the village has been inaccessible by road due to the suspected threat of other explosive devices. The previous day, on 27 May, five members of a joint team of Central African security forces and bilateral forces were killed and five injured when their vehicles hit a roadside explosive device near Bondiba on the Abba – Baboua axis. And on 26 May, two UN peacekeepers sustained injuries and their armoured vehicle was heavily damaged when it hit an explosive device during a patrol in Kiamoni village near the Cameroonian border in Mambéré-Kadéï.

Without distinction

The victims are diverse: a family, children, a humanitarian worker, merchants, armed elements, UN peacekeepers and a priest. Explosive devices that detonate by the presence, proximity or contact of a person cannot distinguish between civilians and combatants, raising important concerns about the principles of distinction and proportionality under international humanitarian law.

Some incidents involving explosive devices were also reported from other parts of the Central African Republic. But the main focus of the recent increase remains on the west, notably Nana-Mambéré, Mambéré-Kadéï and Ouham Pendé on the border with Cameroon.

In July 2020, the suspected use of anti-vehicle mines was first reported in the country since the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSCA was established in 2014. One of the suspected devices damaged a MINUSCA tank near the border with Cameroon. After a relative calm between July 2020 and April 2021, the problem has taken on dangerous dimensions with serious consequences for civilians.

Restricting humanitarian access and socioeconomic activities

The suspected presence of explosive devices severely limits humanitarian access to vulnerable people in a context already marked by access restrictions due to armed conflict and physical constraints. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that more than 50,000 people in Nana-Mambéré are in dire need of water, sanitation and shelter assistance, more than 1,500 malnourished children are waiting to receive food supplements and 5,800 others need vaccination but cannot be reached due to the threat of suspected explosive devices. Various axes in Nana-Mambéré, Mambéré-Kadéï and Ouham Pendé have been considered high risk due to the suspected presence of explosive devices and remain practically impassable for humanitarians and civilians alike, including between Bouar and Ngaounday, Abba and Baboua and in the area of Amada-Gaza.

Towns and villages in the areas where explosive devices are suspected risk to be cut off from food and other supplies, trade, security patrols and humanitarian assistance. Explosive ordnance also limits people’s access to fields during this time of planting, places of work and income and essential services such as health care and education.

Emergency assistance by air

Circumventing access restrictions, OCHA and humanitarian partners delivered between June and October relief supplies by helicopter to Nguia-Bouar, Ngaoundaye, Ndim and Gbambia in Nana-Mambéré, Mambéré-Kadei et Ouham-Pendé. More than 4.5 tons of medicine, nutritional supplements, hygiene products, education kits and food reached about 56,000 vulnerable people, including more than 4,000 internally displaced people, to satisfy the most urgent needs and replenish local health centers. As if the threat of suspected explosive ordnance was not enough, Nguia has been further isolated by clashes between armed groups and military forces. Similar helicopter missions will likely be organized to the region in the coming weeks and months.

Protecting civilians and humanitarian workers

In September, the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) launched an explosive ordnance awareness campaign for the population in Bouar (Nana-Mambéré) and Boali (Ombella M’Poko). To date, more than 932 people have been sensitized, including 363 women and 440 children. Awareness posters have been posted at strategic locations in Baoro and Bouar towns. Drawings and photos highlight precautions to be taken not only to avoid explosive devices, but also to mark and report them to demining organizations. UNMAS has also trained in June more than 1,000 aid workers and United Nations staff on the risks of explosive ordnance. The UN agency also trained trainers to enable different organizations to train their own staff in Bangui and field locations. In May, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams from the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSCA surveyed and cleared the Baboua – Bondiba – Nguia-Bouar axis parallel to the Cameroonian border and other suspected hazardous areas along the Bouar – Bocaranga axis – a slow and dangerous process. Additional funding is now urgently needed to increase the extent of risk education projects for children, women and men in the affected areas.

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Central African Republic

Situation Report
Feature
Food assistance allows Jeanne to feed her grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and her blind son, and gives her the energy she needs to return to the fields. © Solidarités Internationales, 2021.
Food assistance allows Jeanne to feed her grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and her blind son, and gives her the energy she needs to return to the fields. © Solidarités Internationales, 2021.

Food assistance for those who lost everything while fleeing

Jeanne is 65 years old and, despite her age, is in charge of seven members of her family: grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and her adult son who is blind. She lives in Dékoa, Kémo Prefecture in the center of the Central African Republic where she was born. Jeanne is a farmer and with her family, she consumes all of her crop production. She has no source of income.

In December 2020, during the electoral crisis that affected much of the country, the elderly woman had to flee the fighting between armed groups and the Central African Armed Forces. “With my neighbors, we spent a month hidden in the bush. On our return, when the situation improved, we found our houses empty - our belongings had been looted - and the fields had not been tended. We have lost everything. " Within a few years, this was the second time that Jeanne had to flee. Today, one in four Central Africans is displaced, either in their own country or in a neighboring country. Since her last displacement, Jeanne is afraid that the fighting will resume, that she will have to flee again, that she will lose everything. Like 2.8 million other Central Africans, or more than half the population, Jeanne and her family need humanitarian assistance. As soon as they have eaten their poor harvest, there is nothing left. In the Dekoa Sub-Prefecture where Jeanne lives, half of the population is critically food insecure. In this context, the NGO Solidarités International, with the support from the Humanitarian Fund for the Central African Republic and the European Union (ECHO), organized three food fairs in Dekoa between May and September 2021. The NGO staff first identified 872 most vulnerable families, or 6,033 people, such as the elderly and single-parent households, like Jeanne’s one. They then received vouchers for six food items, including maize, cassava, rice, peanuts, oil and salt. Local suppliers have been identified and the quality of foodstuffs verified. Beneficiaries of the assistance were then able to visit suppliers on the fair site or directly in stores, to exchange their coupons for food. The operation enabled these vulnerable people to cover 75 per cent of their 3-months food needs, while supporting local traders and suppliers in Dékoa.

“The assistance allowed me to feed my family and gave me the energy to go back cultivating my field,” says Jeanne. She hopes that assistance will continue, allowing her to sell part of her harvest, as she has school and health costs to cover for her family.

Solidarités International also distributes food to 418 vulnerable families, or 2,409 people living in the villages around Dékoa. In addition to this emergency response, the NGO also supports income-generating activities in Dékoa, where 75 vulnerable people will get trained in hairdressing, saponification, petty trade, transport or catering, and will receive equipment to start their own business. To boost agriculture, 300 vulnerable villagers will also get trained and will receive tools, seeds and food, to avoid the consumption of seeds. In addition, Solidarités International is completing its intervention in Dékoa by rehabilitating five water points which will serve around 2,500 people, and by revitalizing the water point management committees to ensure maintenance and operation.

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Central African Republic

Situation Report
Visual

Overview of population movements as of 30 Septembre 2021

Overview of population movements as of 30 Septembre

As of 30 September 2021, the total number of internally Displaced persons (IDP) in CAR is estimated at 722,101 individuals. A quarter of them live in IDP sites (25%), and the rest (75%) is hosted in families.

The overall trend in September 2021 indicates an increase of 9,156 IDPs (or 1.3%), compared to August when the number of IDPs was estimated at 712,945 people. The increase in new displacements is localized in hotspots of tensions and/or clashes between armed groups and the Central African Armed Forces (FACA)/Bilateral forces, mainly in the west and central region of the country. At the same time, a decrease in the number of new returnees has been reported. In August 2021, the Population Movements’ Commission (CMP) reported 37,510 new IDPs against 15,270 returnees. In September 2021, 23,482 new IDPs were registered against 14,326 returnees.

The new displacements were mainly registered in the sub-prefectures of Kabo, Bozoum, Bocaranga, Ouanda-Djallé, Bangui, Bria, Paoua, Abba and Alindao. The military operations conducted by the FACA/ Bilateral forces against armed groups, and the fear of abuses committed by the latter during their withdrawal are the main causes of the new displacements. Some residents, perceiving the imminence of fighting moved preventively to seek refuge in safer places. In addition, new displacements related to floods were reported and represent just over a quarter of new displacements in September 2021.

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Situation Report
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Overview of incidents affecting humanitarian workers (January - September 2021)

Overview of incidents affecting humanitarian workers (January - September 2021)

The civilian population bears the brunt of the sustained tensions and increased armed violence in several parts of the country. During the first eight months of 2021, 314 incidents affecting humanitarian workers have been recorded compared to 267 during the same period in 2020. The sub-prefectures of Bossangoa, Bangui and Kaga-Bandoro, were the most affected. Theft, robbery, looting, threats, and assaults accounted for 67% of the incidents (210 out of 314), while the remaining 33% were interferences and restrictions.

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Humanitarian Dashboard, January - June 2021

Humanitarian Dashboard, January - June 2021

In the first half of 2021, humanitarian actors in the Central African Republic provided lifesaving, multisectoral assistance to 1.4 million people in an increasingly volatile security context. The upsurge in armed conflicts and intercommunal violence since mid-December 2020 has had a multiplier effect on forced or preventive movements of communities already weakened by years of conflict. As of July 31, 691,000 people were internally displaced, the majority staying with host families or displacement sites. Humanitarian assistance helped to mitigate the immediate effects of food insecurity and malnutrition, supported people with shelter, water, hygiene services and health care and protected an increasingly vulnerable population.

Download the infographic here.

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Situation Report
Background
A female logistician from a humanitarian organisation discusses with a supplier in Paoua. ©WFP/Virginie Angé, Paoua, Ouham-Pendé, CAR, 2021.
A female logistician from a humanitarian organisation discusses with a supplier in Paoua. ©WFP/Virginie Angé, Paoua, Ouham-Pendé, CAR, 2021.

A future generation of women logisticians in humanitarian action

Humanitarian action is increasingly integrating a gender perspective to ensure that the specific needs of women, girls, boys and men are considered, for example in humanitarian needs assessments and the delivery of assistance. This is the case in the Humanitarian Needs Overview 2021 and the Humanitarian Response Plan 2021 for the Central African Republic (CAR), which guide the work of humanitarian organisations in the country. This work is supported by the Gender Working Group in CAR, which brings together humanitarian actors from across the different thematic sectors and works to develop a common approach to gender mainstreaming in the humanitarian programme cycle.

Launching a dialogue on inclusion

To better respond to the needs of all beneficiaries and to better integrate gender equality into their work, humanitarian partners in CAR are also committed to diversifying their workforce. To this end, the Logistics Cluster, a forum of humanitarian actors working in the logistics sector, has launched an initiative on gender in logistics. The initiative provides a platform for all stakeholders from the sector to exchange ideas on a monthly basis, to learn from each other, encourage collaboration between organisations, and join forces and advocacy, with the aim of launching tangible measures to enable greater access for women to jobs in humanitarian logistics in CAR.

Rigid barriers

Few women, and especially few Central African women, work in logistics – one of the typical male dominated professions. The Logistics Cluster recently launched a survey among humanitarians working in logistics in CAR to better understand the issues at stake surrounding gender inequalities in this sector, including the composition of logistics teams, barriers to accessing the profession and efforts made by humanitarian organisations to diversify their teams in terms of the female to male ratio. The survey shows that only one in ten logisticians in humanitarian organisations in CAR is a woman. The few women work mainly in administrative rather than decision-making roles, such as purchaser, assistants and storekeepers, and are less represented in senior positions, such as team leaders and logistics officers, as well as drivers and technicians.

Working in logistics requires specific skills in which women are often less trained or which discourage them due to persistent gender bias, such as negotiating in a highly competitive environment, public speaking and physical fitness. Girls and young women are seldomly supported or even discouraged from taking up decision-making roles and are rather directed towards the administrative sector. The consequence – the gender segregation of professions – is of course also reflected in the composition of employees in humanitarian organisations in CAR. In addition, the few women working in humanitarian logistics in CAR report that they are often faced with gender discrimination in the workplace, such as lack of consideration or problems of authority because of their gender; a considerable disincentive.

Planning concrete measures

The recent survey conducted by the Logistics Cluster will serve as a basis for developing common tools, trainings and advocacy, and a roadmap to ensure better integration of women in humanitarian logistics. Concrete ideas to increase the rate of female humanitarian logisticians include visits and open days at schools, technical colleges and universities to promote logistics jobs; introductory trainings in humanitarian logistics to give girls and women a taste for and encourage them to take up this career path; and logistics internships in humanitarian organisations specifically for women. Advocacy will focus on the management of humanitarian organisations to orientate recruitment policies with concrete actions to favour the inclusion of women in logistics, as well as to promote the continuous training of women.

Humanitarian organisations can act as role models in CAR by further diversifying their staff and thus promoting gender equality, breaking down gendered constructions of professions.

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Central African Republic

Situation Report
Background
Brad and Max finally reunited with their family. ©Plan International/Frédéric Beda, Mbaïki, CAR, 2021.
Brad and Max finally reunited with their family. ©Plan International/Frédéric Beda, Mbaïki, CAR, 2021.

After six months apart, Max and Brad are reunited with their family

In the Central African Republic, 2.5 million people, including 900,000 children, need protection. Among them are Brad (13) and Max (15)* who live in Mbaïki, a town 100 km south of the capital Bangui. In January 2021, the two boys got separated from their family when fleeing clashes between armed groups and the Central African Armed Forces. "My brother and I followed a group of people we didn't know. We walked in the bush for two days and ended up in some village. That's when some good people picked us up and accompanied us to Bangui," Max explained.

One drama among many

The conflict in the Central African Republic has displaced more than one in four Central Africans. Since January, following an outbreak of violence, the country has seen the highest level of displacement since 2014. Currently, 691,000 people are internally displaced, while another 699,000 have found refuge in neighbouring countries.

It was through awareness-raising activities organized by the Community Networks for Child Protection (RECOPE) in the 3rd arrondissement of Bangui that the local authorities handed Brad and Max over to the NGO Plan International to take care of the two minors. The RECOPEs are mainly made up of community leaders and address issues such as education, reproductive health and gender-based violence. "After listening to Brad and Max, we provided them with the assistance they needed, including psychosocial support, and placed them in temporary foster care in Bangui," explains Amos Namzoka, Case Manager at Plan International. While Brad and Max stayed with the host family, the NGO launched a search in partnership with the Ministry of Social Affairs to find the children's biological family.

The reunion

During the three-month search, the local agents of the Ministry of Social Affairs were able to find where the children's family lives, on the basis of information and indications provided by the children. Subsequently, they were able to obtain the parents' telephone number, which they passed on to Plan International. The parents were then contacted and a meeting arranged before the actual reunification. "During this meeting, we make sure that the parents are ready to receive their children at short notice, because in some cases, it requires long-term psychological work with the family," explains Justin Kaseke, Child Protection Officer at Plan International. Following discussions with the family, everything was finally ready for the reunion. Smiling ear to ear, Brad and Max could not wait any longer and on 2nd August, accompanied by the NGO, they met their parents in Mbaïki in their family home. This happy event was accompanied by tears and laughter. "Imagine a father who thought his children were dead, and one day someone comes to tell him that they are alive and that they are going to bring them back to you," testified Maka Jasmin, the father of the two boys, tears in his voice. "I am so grateful for the work Plan International did for reuniting us with our children," concluded Jasmin.

Maintaining a protective environment

As part of its project Protective environment for child, adolescent and young adult survivors of different forms of violence in Bangui, financed by the Humanitarian Fund for CAR, Plan International has reunited 25 separated children with their families, including the two boys from Mbaïki. Family tracing is ongoing for another five children, all of which have been separated from their families due to the conflict. The project also enabled to set up five community-based child protection mechanisms to take care of 100 victims of gender-based violence (GBV), to support 90 GBV survivors in income-generating activities, to issue 180 birth certificates to children and to enrol more than 8,600 children in psychosocial support activities.

*Names have been changed to protect the children’s identity.

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Background
Ella Delphine, 32, walking through the Ngaragba neighbourhood to raise awareness of COVID-19 among people with disabilities. ©OCHA/Virginie Bero, Bangui, CAR, 2021.
Ella Delphine, 32, walking through the Ngaragba neighbourhood to raise awareness of COVID-19 among people with disabilities. ©OCHA/Virginie Bero, Bangui, CAR, 2021.

Including people with disabilities in the fight against COVID-19

Under the blazing sun and with the help of a crutch, Ella Delphine (32) walks through the Ngaragba neighbourhood on the outskirts of Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR). The young woman has been hired by the NGO Humanity & Inclusion (HI) as an awareness-raising agent on COVID-19. Her target audience are fellow people living with disabilities in the 7th arrondissement of Bangui. People with physical and mental disabilities are among those often forgotten when it comes to the fight against COVID-19. CAR is one of the countries least prepared for the pandemic. As of 10 October 2021, the country confirmed 11,469 cases, including 100 deaths. Some 245,444 people have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

"I like going to people with disabilities like myself, to talk to them about the coronavirus. Where I live, we are usually forgotten during information sessions. Some can't get to the places where activities take place because of their limited mobility. Humanity & Inclusion has allowed me to get to them and help them to protect themselves from the virus," Ella says proudly.

Feeling the affection of the community

To access and participate in most COVID-19 awareness raising activities, apart from radio messages, one usually has to move to a specific place and sometimes even make one’s way to see what is being displayed or told. For people like Bienvenu (27), not being able to participate in such activities is a source of great frustration, because he feels excluded. "I lost the use of my legs in a traffic accident. I get around on a tricycle, which makes it difficult to access all sorts of activities in the neighbourhood," says the young man. "I felt marginalized, but thanks to the NGO’s activities, Ella has given me hope. I know that we disabled people are not forgotten," he says, sitting on his tricycle.

Ten organizations of people with disabilities have received support from the NGO HI to raise awareness of COVID-19 among their peers. They have received training in information techniques and equipment such as a picture box, visibility waistcoats and rain jackets to protect themselves. The image box was filmed in sign language and recorded on a digital tablet to inform deaf-mute people. The same picture box was performed by a theatre group and the sound recorded in a studio for informing people with visual impairments.

HI has been able to reach remote areas in Bangui and other places in the Ombella M'Poko, Mbomou and Ouaka Prefectures. Through the awareness-raising sessions, people with disabilities, who have been carrying out activities individually, formed an association to work collectively and achieve more impact on advocacy issues related to their inclusion. Launched in January 2021 with the support of the Crisis and Support Centre (CDCS), this project has enabled HI to inform 30,000 people with disabilities on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 across the capital Bangui. In 2020, the Humanitarian Fund for CAR targeted specific activities that benefited 53,000 people with disabilities.

Challenges to overcome

Disability inclusion is not yet systematic in policy and programming in CAR, but progress is being made, particularly thanks to the Working Group on Accountability to Affected People. Through weekly meetings with the National Organization of People with Disabilities (ONAPHA), the various associations, including the Association of People with Disabilities living with HIV/AIDS, to which Ella and Bienvenu belong, meet on a weekly basis. During these meetings, they take stock of their programmes and share difficulties encountered, in search of possible solutions for better inclusion. The HI project is one of the solutions to the different problems faced by people with disabilities, but there are still many aspects related to their inclusion that need to be overcome.

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Background
Food distribution in Ndim to people who had fled the current crisis. ©OCHA/Odilon Nzango, Ndim, Ouham-Péndé Prefecture, CAR, July 2021.
Food distribution in Ndim to people who had fled the current crisis. ©OCHA/Odilon Nzango, Ndim, Ouham-Péndé Prefecture, CAR, July 2021.

Clashes in Ouham and Ouham-Pendé displace tens of thousands

Clashes between armed groups and the Central African Armed Forces, supported by bilateral forces, along the north-westerly border have forced several ten thousands of women, men and children to flee. Their precarious living conditions have further deteriorated and basic needs for protection, water, food and healthcare continue to soar, in a region where 80 per cent of the population needed humanitarian assistance already before the current turmoil.

The situation at the border between the Central African Republic, Chad and Cameroon remains volatile and a number of sub-prefectures are affected, notably Koui, Ngaoundaye, Paoua, Markounda, Batangafo and Kabo. People move back and forth between places of refuge – the surrounding bush, neighbouring villages and towns across the border – and their homes and fields, in constant search of protecting their lives and livelihoods.

Acts of violence against civilians, including physical assaults, lootings, sexual and gender-based violence and robberies are widespread, as are attacks against civilian infrastructure, such as schools and hospitals, as well as humanitarian workers.

A significant rise in sexual and gender-based violence targets women and girls, particularly in the fields, forests and en route, underlying the risk they face when going about daily chores and agriculture. Analysis from May highlights the protection crisis for women and girls in Markounda, where nearly 60 per cent of the 86 cases of gender-based violence registered were rapes, of which 92 per cent were committed by armed elements.

Access restrictions

The insecurity in the north-western border region severely restricts access for humanitarians to the most vulnerable, including the elderly, single-headed families and people with disabilities. The risk of attacks by armed groups and crime rates are high. In June 2021, Ouham and Ouham Pendé prefectures were the most affected by incidents against humanitarians with 11 and 6 incidents, respectively. A civilian was killed and three injured, including a humanitarian, in an ambush on the transfer of patients to a medical facility supported by Médecins sans frontières (MSF) in Batangafo. As this was the third such incident within a few weeks, MSF suspended medical assistance on the axes. Trucks bound for Bocaranga and Ndim, delivering food on behalf of the World Food Programme (WFP), have also been blocked due to the persistent risk of attacks.

The increased threat of explosive devices since April and physical access restrictions such as collapsed bridges and impassable roads during the current rainy season further complicate humanitarian access.

Assisting those in hard-to-reach areas

In an emergency response on 21 June, UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, OCHA and the NGO Action contre la faim flew a three-month supply of medications and nutritional supplements for 10,000 people to Bang and Ngaouandaye in Ouham-Pendé, thanks to the availability of a helicopter from the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS). Soap, hygiene products and water purification tabs were also distributed to the most vulnerable, including pregnant women and mothers of small children.

In mid-June, two helicopter rotations operated by humanitarian partners to Bocaranga assisted 1,000 displaced families with 1.3 tons of water treatment tabs, hygiene products, medication, nutritional supplements and post-exposure prophylaxis kits for 25 survivors of sexual violence. These flights also enabled an international organisation to conduct a needs assessment in Ndim, which revealed dire needs for protection, water, food and healthcare. The UN peacekeeping mission MINUSCA facilitated the humanitarian flights by providing fuel and securing the airstrips.

Despite the insecurity, UNHCR and IOM could assist 600 families who returned after having fled clashes in Bélé et Gangan on two outlying axes of Paoua with essential household items and hygiene products on 8 and 13 July.

Continued displacement

In Kabo and Sido in Ouham, nearly 21,000 people were newly displaced between the end of April and June. Some 36,000 newly and previously displaced people could be reached with WFP food assistance in the two localities in late June. Humanitarians attend to patients at the MSF-supported local hospital, refer survivors of sexual and gender-based violence for medical care and monitor and record protection incidents. More than 302,000 people need humanitarian assistance in the region, making Ouham the prefecture with the second highest number of people in need in 2021. Among them are 83,000 people in severe acute food insecurity.

In June, an estimated 30,000 people were displaced in the Ngaoundaye, Bocaranga and Koui sub-prefectures due to military operations that have been ongoing since March and clashes at the border with Chad at the end of May. In addition to the assistance provided in June by air, humanitarian partners continue mobilizing to provide food and basic household items to the most vulnerable, improve water supply and provide the hospital with urgently needed medications. Humanitarian actors have scaled up preposition of food, medicines, nutrition, non-food and other critical relief items. Access to water also remains a major concern in Ngaoundaye, where less than half of the town’s 17 boreholes are functional and the consumption of unsafe water puts people’s health at risk.

Insecurity across the north-west considerably limits people’s freedom to move, and hence their ability to obtain a sufficient and balanced nutrition through agriculture, hunting, trade and purchase. People in Ndim remain within a five-kilometre perimeter from town for fear of attacks and exactions – a situation characteristic for many towns in the region. As a consequence, food prices have sharply increased in Bocaranga, Paoua, Markounda and Kabo in mid-June compared to May due to supply challenges – up to 75 per cent for corn – in a region, where four out of five sub-prefectures had already attained the emergency phase of food insecurity in May.

To improve food security where access to fields is possible, the NGO OXFAM distributed in mid-July seeds and tools to 300 families in Pougol, Nzéréké and Benamkor near Paoua. Each farming family received 18 kg of cowpea and 1 kg of sesame seeds, and tarps, containers and bags to preserve their harvest. To accompany these farmers, 20 members of the community were trained on the specifics of these plants to maximize harvests.

Food security in the north-west risks to further deteriorate during this lean season, if insecurity and access restrictions persist.

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Central African Republic

Situation Report
Emergency Response
IDPs in the mosque compound in Bambari, Ouaka Prefecture. ©UNHCR/Hyppolyte Togogo, CAR, June 2021.
IDPs in the mosque compound in Bambari, Ouaka Prefecture. ©UNHCR/Hyppolyte Togogo, CAR, June 2021.

8,500 internally displaced people forced to leave the Elevage site in Bambari

More than 8,500 people who lived at the Elevage IDP site in Bambari in the Ouaka Prefecture in the center of the country, most of them ethnic Fulani, were once again forcefully displaced to the city’s neighborhoods. On 4 June, armed elements threatened IDPs at the site and committed serious international humanitarian law violations. Two days later, the Elevage site was set on fire in circumstances that remain to be clarified. Fearing for their safety, some of the residents of Mbiande and Kombélé, villages located 20 km from Bambari on the Bambari-Ippy axis, also moved to Mbagolo in the same period. 5,900 of the IDPs from the Elevage site today live in close promiscuity on the premises of the mosque in Bambari and more than 2,000 others in host families, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Responding to urgent needs 

A rapid needs assessment conducted on 7 June by humanitarian partners OCHA, UNHCR, WFP, Triangle (TGH), INTERSOS, ACTED, COOPI and PARET found that the displaced people urgently needed water, basic household items, food, education and protection. On the same day, an international organization started distributing 40,000 liters of water per day to IDPs at the mosque and in surrounding neighborhoods, as well as to host communities. The NGOs MSF and TGH set up nine latrines in the mosque, in addition to the three that existed, and provided disinfectants and hand washing facilities. MSF also ensures sanitation at the mosque, using a dedicated site identified by the authorities for waste disposal. The NGO COOPI, with the support from the World Food Programme (WFP), distributed on 9 June 8.9 tons of high-energy biscuits, representing a three-day ration, followed by the distribution of food stamps for a one-month ration for all 8,500 IDPs. More than 400 children also received nutritional supplements from WFP. The IDPs hosted at the mosque also received non-food items from UNHCR, including tarpaulins, mosquito nets, cooking utensils and soap. To ensure IDPs access to health services, MSF relocated its malaria treatment center to the mosque, which the NGO had run at the Elevage site before it was set on fire. IMC and MSF also continue their usual support for the city's health facilities where IDPs can access free healthcare. Promoting reproductive health, the NGO AID with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), distributed sanitary products, including sanitary pads, towels, buckets, soap and loincloth to 100 vulnerable women. In response to suspected measles cases among IDPs at the mosque and a confirmed case in the neighborhoods, MSF vaccinated more than 2,380 children aged 6 months to 15 years.

The school at the Elevage IDP site was destroyed in the fire and the one on the mosque premises serves as a refuge for IDPs, leaving more than 800 children without access to education. In response, the local education board and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) integrated the majority of students into nearby schools, where they are currently taking end-of-year exams. The NGOs APADE and JRS distributed school supplies to nearly 2,700 children, including the IDPs. Despite these efforts to keep children in school, cases of school dropouts have been noted but their extent remains to be determined. 

On 11 June, the Humanitarian Coordinator allocated US$ 12 million from the Humanitarian Fund to cover urgent needs in areas of high vulnerability and where the resurgence of violence has exacerbated humanitarian and protection needs. This funding enabled IDP camp coordination and management (CCCM) and the provision of non-food items to the displaced people in Bambari. 

Protection remains the biggest concern

While the IDPs need assistance, their protection remains a major concern. Some of them feel threatened by attacks from armed groups, making host families less inclined to offer them a shelter. The NGO INTERSOS monitors protection incidents at the mosque compound and in other areas hosting IDPs, while MercyCorps implements gender-based violence (GBV) prevention activities. With the support from UNICEF, the NGO Espérance is setting up mobile child-friendly spaces which provide fun-inspired psychosocial support services to children and educate their parents on protection issues.

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Central African Republic

Situation Report
Coordination
Central African Red Cross volunteers prepare for disasters
A view of the participants in team work. © OCHA / Alban M'Boligassihe, Bangui, RCA, 2021.

Central African Red Cross volunteers prepare for disasters

Every year during the rainy season, the Central African Republic experiences a series of floods. In the capital Bangui, this natural hazard particularly affects the districts along the Oubangui River. In 2019, floods caused significant material damage and displaced around 100,000 people. Some 10,000 houses were destroyed and more than 500 wells and 1,500 latrines were flooded. Numerous infrastructures and large agricultural areas were destroyed in eight prefectures and in Bangui. This disaster has further aggravated the already deplorable humanitarian situation and created additional needs. Humanitarians provided multisectoral assistance to the affected people, including emergency shelter, food, water, hygiene and sanitation.

Learning from past experience

The extensive impacts of the floods that occurred highlighted coordination problems in terms of standardising the data provided by different actors, the lack of people trained in post-disaster assessments and missing assessment guidelines. The lack of a common data storage and management platforms, including for example mapping, was also noticed.

In response, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), in collaboration with the NGO REACH and the International Federation of the Red Cross, reinforced from 29 June to 3 July the capacity of 20 volunteers from the Central African Red Cross and the Directorate General of Civil Protection on post-disaster assessment. In the Central African Republic, these volunteers are considered first responders in the community for various emergency situations, including disasters, and have excellent knowledge of the local context.

Participants of the training discussed the rationale behind the methodology and results of humanitarian assessments, the design of questionnaires and the guiding principles of humanitarian action. Afterwards, participants will learn how to use the interviewers' guide and simplified data collection on a dedicated sheet, before using the 'Kobo collect' application installed in each of the 20 tablets that REACH provides the participants at the end of the training.

For better preparedness

In support of the authorities in their primary mission to ensure the well-being of the population, in 2020, OCHA supported a study carried out by REACH on susceptibility to flooding in populated areas. The findings of the study were presented to the authorities, including the mapping of the most vulnerable areas; to better inform their decisions.

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Central African Republic

Situation Report
Feature
  The Ministry of Health Pierre Somse received the COVID-19 vaccination at the kick-off ceremony of the national vaccination campaign in the capital Bangui. ©MINISTRY OF HEALTH/Jean-Louis DA, Bangui, CAR, 2021.
The Ministry of Health Pierre Somse received the COVID-19 vaccination at the kick-off ceremony of the national vaccination campaign in the capital Bangui. ©MINISTRY OF HEALTH/Jean-Louis DA, Bangui, CAR, 2021.

COVID-19 vaccination campaign launch

The Central African Government on 20 May 2021 launched the COVID-19 vaccination campaign with the support of partners, notably WHO, UNICEF and GAVI. The campaign began with the symbolic vaccination of members of the government and health workers. The Ministry of Health reported that 318,496 people have been vaccinated as of 17 October. Frontline health personnel, vulnerable people aged 50 and above, religious leaders, traders, community liaison volunteers, transporters and journalists were targeted first by the campaign. The country benefits from the global roll-out of vaccines through the COVAX facility with at least 372,000 doses, according to the latest distribution forecast, in additional to bilateral donations that have been announced. On 6 July, the Central African Republic (CAR) received for example 150,000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine through bilateral support from the Government of China.

The United Nations on 21 April 2021 started a vaccination campaign for its personnel and staff from eligible international NGOs in CAR as part of its duty of care. Until 23 August, 19,454 personnel were vaccinated.

Response to the second wave

On the vigil of the campaign launch, President Touadéra on 19 May announced that a public health emergency will be declared and a number of measures taken to intensify efforts to contain the second COVID-19 wave, that has hit the country since mid-March. Stricter barrier measures at gathering places such as restaurants, bars, places of worship, weddings and funerals, and public transport would been announced, as well as their more rigorous reinforcement.

As of 21 October 2021, the Ministry of Health has recorded 11,518* COVID-19 cases, including 100 deaths. In the first four months of 2021, six times as many cases were confirmed as in the last four months of 2020 – 1,571 cases compared to 259 – and the death toll has risen by 44 per cent from 63 to 91. The worsening of the epidemic concerns the entire country. Several towns that were previously spared have also reported cases, including Kabo (Ouham Prefecture), Kouango (Ouaka), Bangassou (Mbomou), Ndélé (Bamingui-Bangoran), Birao (Vakaga) and Obo (Haut-Mbomou). Beyond the urban areas, COVID-19 is spreading deep into the villages. 

Conducive environment

A recent survey conducted by the NGO Ground Truth Solutions indicated that Central Africans are ready to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and believe that the vaccine will help to eradicate the virus, despite some scepticism and misinformation that persist. Humanitarian and development partners have been supporting the Ministry of Health in elaborating a communication campaign to inform and encourage people to get vaccinated and to counter the spread of false information about the vaccine.

Challenges on all fronts

The Central African Republic looks back at a year during which humanitarian needs soared. Never in the past five years have there been so many people in acute need as today. COVID-19 hit a country already ravaged by decades of armed conflict and underdevelopment. According to the WHO, CAR was among the least prepared to face the pandemic. A series of aggravating factors render the country both vulnerable and the response to the pandemic difficult:

The health system is barely functioning, due to a chronic shortage of skilled health workers, medical equipment and basic medicines. Seventy per cent of health services are provided by humanitarian organizations and over 2.5 million people, half of the population, need health assistance. One in four Central Africans walks for over an hour to reach the nearest clinic and for many, the bills for consultations and medications are unaffordable. Only one in three Central Africans has access to clean water and for many, soap is a luxury good. Access to water and sanitation is particularly problematic at the many sites where 204,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) live, often in crowded makeshift shelters where physical distancing is not practicable.

The provision of protective equipment and medical devices to diagnose and treat COVID-19 patients posed a serious challenge, particularly at the onset of the pandemic. Poor road infrastructure and the six-month rainy season disrupt supply chains to large parts of the country. Insecurity further hinders access to services and the possibility of humanitarians to reach people in need of assistance. A severe lack in cold chain infrastructure further impedes the safe supply of medicines across the country.

Unprecedented humanitarian response

Faced with these challenges, humanitarian and development organizations have scaled up support to the Ministry of Health since March 2020 to provide a comprehensive and decentralized response and to strengthen the public health system and access to water and sanitation. Nearly a third of the US$ 553.6 million budget for humanitarian assistance in 2020 was dedicated to the COVID-19 response.

As a result, humanitarian partners improved access to health care for 938,000 people in 2020 and made access to water and sanitation possible for 770,000 people, including many IDPs.

To mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on food security, humanitarian organizations in 2020 assisted 900,000 vulnerable people with food and over 170,000 farmers were able to produce their own food and increase income thanks to agricultural support.

Adapting the modality of assistance

Cash-based interventions became a preferred modality of assistance that avoids large crowds and provides a safer space for humanitarian assistance in times of an epidemic. With 48 per cent more beneficiaries reached in 2020 compared to the previous year, cash-based assistance experienced a surge. Over 375,000 people received US$ 11.6 million for COVID-related multisector assistance in cash or vouchers, first and foremost, to improve hygiene standards and access to water.

* Given limited testing capacities, the government’s diagnostic strategy since July 2020 limits tests to suspected cases and people at risk. Thus, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases should be interpreted with caution. For illustration, 66,707 people have been tested for COVID-19 as of 4 October 2021.

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Central African Republic

Situation Report
Feature
A family displaced by recent post-election violence has arrived at a new site for internally displaced people in Batangafo and is unpacking the few belongings it was able to take along. ©OCHA/Adrienne Surprenant, Batangafo, Ouham Prefecture, CAR, 2021.
A family displaced by recent post-election violence has arrived at a new site for internally displaced people in Batangafo and is unpacking the few belongings it was able to take along. ©OCHA/Adrienne Surprenant, Batangafo, Ouham Prefecture, CAR, 2021.

Alarming rise in displacement across the Central African Republic

A surge in violence has displaced over 276,000 people within the Central African Republic. More than half of the displaced have returned in recent weeks but 129,000 people remain displaced inside the country. Most live in deplorable conditions in the bushes surrounding their villages in fear of renewed attacks. And new people are forced to flee almost every day with no end in sight to the current crisis. In addition to the internally displaced, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has registered more than 45,000 newly arrived refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Chad and the Republic of Congo.

This new wave of violence and displacement began in mid-December ahead of the general elections and adds on to decades of armed violence, which was topped last year with the Covid-19 pandemic, increasing humanitarian needs in the Central African Republic to new heights. While this latest armed offensive was launched in the west, attacks and displacement have since spread across the country, affecting also the center and south-east and sparing only few regions.

Deplorable living conditions and urgent humanitarian needs

Most displaced people have found temporary refuge in fields and forests near their towns, which they consider safer. Some return to their homes during the day to fetch household items or personal belongings or in search of food and water, only to return to the fields for the night. Others have found protection at schools, in churches, near the bases of UN peacekeepers or with host families.

In view of ongoing violence, protection is among the displaced people’s most urgent needs. Sexual violence against women and girls and child protection issues such as unaccompanied and separated children and forced recruitment have been reported. Humanitarian assessments further show that food, primary healthcare, water and sanitation, basic household items and shelter are the most pressing humanitarian needs. Even before the most recent displacement crisis, one in four Central Africans, nearly 1.3 million people, were displaced in the country or across its borders.

Saving lives under most difficult conditions

Despite the growing insecurity in many parts of the country, humanitarian partners have been scaling up their efforts to save lives and provide emergency response assistance to the displaced and those most in need. They support hospitals with medical teams and essential medicines, supply people with drinking water, distribute food and build latrines to prevent the spread of diseases. The volatile security context demands highest flexibility and readiness from humanitarians.

In early January, obstructed road access to Dékoa in the central Kémo Prefecture was overcome thanks to a helicopter and 2,000 families displaced by armed groups’ attacks could be provided with water purification tablets, high energy biscuits and medicines. A rapid needs assessment under the lead of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) during the same mission provided the basis for other humanitarian partners who scaled up the response in Dékoa in the days after. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) provided food assistance to over 10,000 families, the NGOs Médecins d’Afrique (MDA) resumed its nutritional support and Médecins du Monde (MDM) established a presence in Dékoa to support access to health care and psychosocial services and to support survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, including the most vulnerable displaced outside the city. In addition to Dékoa, humanitarians have reached four other hard-to-access areas by helicopter since mid-December – Bouca and Batangafo (Ouham Prefecture), Dimbi (Basse-Kotto) and Ouango (Mbomou) – to deploy rapid assessments teams and to deliver much needed humanitarian cargo.

In the western town of Bouar in Nana-Mambéré Prefecture, humanitarian organizations assist 12,500 newly displaced people, the majority of whom now live in churches and parishes. Water pumps are being repaired and bladders installed to cater for the increased demand of drinking water at those displacement sites. High energy biscuits, flour, beans, oil and salt are being distributed, health facilities are supplied with essential medicines and nutritional supplements to treat children suffering from malnutrition.

And in Bangassou, in the south-eastern Mbomou Prefecture, humanitarians await with stoical calmness each safety window that allows them to reach displaced people. They have already assisted 15,000 people with food and water, shelters and emergency latrines and nutrition support for malnourished children, including at the Cesacoba sites and other displacement sites in and around Bangassou.

In Batangafo in the north-western Ouham Prefecture, where 30,000 internally displaced people had been living at sites before the current crisis, over 600 people arrived since January 2021, fleeing the upsurge of violence in Bouca, where most of them were already displaced. Thanks to access by helicopter, humanitarian partners ensured that those people have access to water and received essential household items and hygiene products.

Humanitarians face more challenges than ever

Despite major achievements in assisting people in these difficult times, the work of humanitarians is getting more and more challenging. While the population is the main victim of the conflict, humanitarians have been increasingly targeted, including with offices being looted and vehicles stolen. The month of December 2020 has seen 59 incidents against humanitarian personnel and property, including an aid worker killed and five others injured – almost double the monthly average of incidents recorded in 2020. January 2021 has continued in the same precarious way with 66 incidents recorded, the highest ever.

The disruption of the country’s main supply route connecting the capital Bangui with Cameroon prevents the safe and timely delivery of vital aid. Over 500 trucks with critical UN and partners’ supplies, including food and medicines, have been stuck at the Cameroonian border since mid-December, along with over 1,100 trucks transporting commercial goods. These constraints on an already fragile food supply are again driving up the prices of basic food commodities and jeopardize the lives of those 1.9 million Central Africans already food insecure. Furthermore, the state of emergency declared on 21 January 2021 has been extended for six months until early August, in addition to a countrywide curfew (20:00 to 5:00) put in place after an attempted attack on the capital Bangui on 13 January, with restrictive effects on humanitarian access to people in need.

As of 17 March 2021, only 16 per cent of the Humanitarian Response Plan for the Central African Republic were funded, at a time when humanitarian needs are more pressing than ever. Urgent funding is required to sustain principled and effective humanitarian response.

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Central African Republic

Situation Report
Emergency Response
©OCHA/Anita Cadonau, Bangui, CAR, 2020.
©OCHA/Anita Cadonau, Bangui, CAR, 2020.

The Humanitarian Response Plan 2021 for the Central African Republic

To meet the needs of the Central African population in 2021, humanitarian actors plan to provide an inclusive, protective and humanitarian-based response to 1.84 million extremely vulnerable people. The response, based on a common understanding of humanitarian needs, will primarily target people affected by shocks linked to violence and natural hazards, and those living in areas with the most urgent humanitarian needs, including in hard-to-reach areas. To achieve this, humanitarians will require US$444.7 million. The strategy that will guide their response is detailed in the Humanitarian Response Plan 2021. As of 17 March 2021, only 16 per cent of this plan are funded at a time when humanitarian needs are extremely alarming. Since violence and tensions related to the December 2020 elections erupted, almost 200,000 people have been internally displaced. Half of them have returned, but 100,000 people are still displaced.

The Humanitarian Needs Overview for the Central African Republic, published in October 2020, tells us that more than half of the Central African Republic's population needs humanitarian assistance and protection in 2021. Among them, 1.9 million people have acute needs related to their physical and mental survival.

The Humanitarian Response Plan 2021 is structured around three strategic objectives. Each of them aims to address one of the three most critical humanitarian consequences identified in the Humanitarian Needs Overview. The response will mitigate the impact of the crisis on people's physical and mental well-being, living conditions and protection. Within this framework, 1.4 million people will benefit from timely and integrated multi-sectoral emergency assistance, in cash or in kind, needed to address the most critical issues related to their physical and mental well-being. Some 1.2 million women, men, girls and boys affected by the crisis will improve their living conditions through dignified and tailored assistance provided in a timely and protective environment. And thirdly, the protection and respect of the human rights of 1.3 million crisis-affected people will be ensured.

The humanitarian response in the Central African Republic in 2021 will be developed as close as possible to and with the people affected, listening to their concerns, priorities and grievances. Humanitarians will pay particular attention to the voices of women, people with disabilities and the elderly to ensure that their specific vulnerabilities are considered and interventions are adapted.

To find out more, see the Humanitarian Response Plan 2021 for the Central African Republic.

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Central African Republic

Situation Report
Forecast
The Humanitarian Needs Overview 2021 reveals a further deterioration of the humanitarian situation across all sectors. ©NRC/C. Igara, CAR, 2020.
The Humanitarian Needs Overview 2021 reveals a further deterioration of the humanitarian situation across all sectors. ©NRC/C. Igara, CAR, 2020.

The survival of 1.9 million people in the Central African Republic is at risk

In 2021, 2.8 million Central Africans – 57 per cent of the population estimated at 4.9 million – will need humanitarian assistance and protection. Of those, three-quarters have acute needs. In other words, the survival of 1.9 million people, or 39 per cent of the population, is at risk. The Humanitarian Needs Overview 2021 for the Central African Republic, the result of an unparalleled data collection and extensive analysis, shows a further deterioration of the humanitarian situation across all sectors.

The figures reveal the dramatic consequences of a pandemic in a country already ravaged by decades of armed conflict, underdevelopment and where natural disasters are becoming more frequent and severe. The figures also reveal the grim daily life the majority in the country, who live in such difficult conditions that they are struggling to feed themselves. Even those who have enough food find it difficult to find decent housing or to get their children an education. The data also shows that there is a danger of humanitarian actors disengaging when development actors are slow to take over.

The humanitarian situation continues to worsen

Since last year, the number of people in need has increased from 2.6 million to 2.8 million (+8 per cent). Meanwhile, the number of people with acute needs is 12 per cent higher than in 2020 (with 1.9 million people in 2021 compared to 1.7 million in 2020). In the past five years, there have never been as many people in humanitarian distress in the Central African Republic as today. This increase is a direct consequence of the downward plunge of the economy, the spreading of the violent conflict, rising food insecurity and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Central African Republic continues to face a serious protection crisis, with a steady increase in violations of human rights and international humanitarian law despite the signing of the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in 2019. Those who suffer most are not those fighting, but rather the civilians. One in four Central Africans are displaced either within the country or in a neighboring country, and the return of internally displaced people and refugees has slowed down considerably.

Gender-based violence is a plague, with one incident reported every hour by the humanitarian alert system, which covers only 42 per cent of the country – and these figures are only the tip of the iceberg. Humanitarian actors have recorded an almost two-fold increase in the number of cases of violence against girls and women as a result of restrictions related to COVID-19. Across the Central African Republic, children continue to be exposed to risks. One in four families fears for the safety of its children, mainly in relation to sexual violence, forced labor and recruitment by armed groups.

The sector with the most people in need is thus protection, followed by health, water, hygiene and sanitation and food security. 40 per cent of Central African households are in a situation of acute food insecurity. In the capital of Bangui, the number of food insecure people has almost doubled since last year, now affecting 45 per cent of the population. The number of people in need in 2021 has increased in all sectors except nutrition, where there has been a slight decrease.

The Central African Republic is also one of the most dangerous countries for humanitarians in the world. On average, more than one incident per day affecting humanitarian workers was recorded in 2020 (424 in total), with three aid workers killed and 29 injured.

The next steps

To meet the population’s needs in 2021, humanitarian actors in the Central African Republic in collaboration with the government develop a common strategy to guide their interventions, detailed in the Humanitarian Response Plan 2021, published in December 2020.

Despite generous donor contributions, as of October 2020, the current Humanitarian Response Plan is funded at just over half of the US$ 553.6 million required. To enable humanitarians to meet the ever-growing needs of the population in 2021, they are counting on donors’ commitment to stand by those Central Africans who cannot meet their basic needs.

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