Following months of tensions in Central African Republic (CAR), the humanitarian challenges in the country are immense and growing every day. However, the efforts put in place to tackle them are far from being enough. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Central African Red Cross Society are calling for greater global support to help the vulnerable people of CAR before it is too late, as reported on 5th December.
The situation in Central African Republic is dramatic. Because of the ongoing insecurity and lack of support, aid workers are not able to provide and deliver services in many areas of the country in a systematic way. Many health centres in the country have been out of essential drugs for months, disrupting health services and access to care for the most vulnerable. The economy has also not been spared, with prices having increased more than 40 per cent over the last year for some basic necessities, making it even more difficult for communities to cope.
“We are aiming at working in the whole country,” says Jean-Moise Modessi Mogedo, head of the disaster management unit of the Central African Red Cross Society. “We need to work on making sure people understand who we are and what our objectives are so we can work in a safer environment and reach the most vulnerable.”
Coming from the communities themselves, Red Cross volunteers have been at the forefront of the response since the early hours, reaching places only they could access. But even they cannot escape the violence. In August, a volunteer of the Central African Red Cross Society was killed while helping people in need. Another volunteer was gunned down in March.
“Before the civil unrest, the situation in our country was already very precarious in many aspects. Now, we are in front of a major silent disaster. The humanitarian needs are enormous and require a very important scale-up of resources to be able to respond adequately. It is a matter of life and death for the hundreds of thousands of people who have now been suffering for too long,” says Antoine Mbao Bogo, president of the Central African Red Cross Society.
The humanitarian situation in CAR is growing more complex every day as the number of people who have had to flee their homes continues to increase, with no signs of being able to return in the near future. The country counts more than 410,000 people who have sought refuge with host families or in camps. In Bangui alone, there are 40 of these sites hosting a population of more than 60,000 people. But this silent disaster does not stop at the border. With almost the same number of people fleeing CAR as those displaced internally, all neighbouring countries are also coping with a massive influx of refugees. This is no longer a country disaster. It is a regional one.
“While it is crucial to sustain and even scale-up our efforts to respond to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, we also have a collective responsibility to provide the appropriate response to other major crises which have become silent over the last months. We cannot continue to let down the people of Central African Republic,” adds Alasan Senghore, director of Africa zone, IFRC.
IFRC has revised its emergency appeal to 10.5 million Swiss francs to support the response activities of the Central African Red Cross Society. To date, the appeal is only 12 per cent funded, posing a real threat to being able to implement the life-saving activities desperately needed in the country.