Humanitarian needs amount in the Central African Republic – aid workers threatened

Violent attacks are increasing in the Central African Republic. The situation has thus far not affected Finn Church Aid’s work in one of the world’s poorest and most fragile countries.

United Nations (UN) humanitarian officials warned about an increasing number of violent acts in the Central Africa Republic (CAR) in July. According to the UN, the attacks are increasingly targeting children. There are concerns that humanitarian needs in CAR will escalate to levels previously reached four years ago when the conflict was at its worst.

According to FCA’s country director Katja José, the security situation has worsened especially in the northern part of the country, where armed groups have stopped humanitarian convoys twice during the past couple of weeks, robbing their aid items. Similar incidents have previously been reported from the eastern parts. Earlier this week, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies confirmed that six of its volunteers were killed there.

Humanitarian organizations have condemned the attacks and pleaded to the government of CAR and to the UN to secure humanitarian access. An estimated 2,2 million people in CAR rely on humanitarian aid.

“Should the humanitarian assistance stop, the civilian population will be most affected. Then they are forced to survive without food aid, medicines, hygiene products or school items,” José says.

No future without education

FCA established a country office in CAR in 2013. The work is focused on renovating schools that have been damaged by the conflict, delivering school kits and training teachers in and around Bangui and the southwestern parts of the country.

“The villages of Berberati and Nola, where FCA has its sub-offices, have for now been among the safest of regions and we have been able to continue our operations as per usual. Last week we had to cancel a meeting with local officials in Bangui because of the security situation.”

Renewed fighting has forced more than 150 000 people to flee their homes in the first half of 2017.

“There are a lot of children living in the refugee camps in CAR, who have been separated from their families. Many women have lost their husbands and are now single parents.”

The need for development cooperation is dire even in the midst of the conflict.

“In conflicts, education is often overrun by other needs, but if a generation grows without the possibility of going to school and receiving education, do they have a future? Education is a human right and everyone should commit to guaranteeing children the right to education.”

José moved to CAR two months ago. She has previously worked for different NGO´s in Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia.

“CAR is clearly poorer than countries that have enjoyed peace for a longer time. In the beginning of 2000, Zambia and Mozambique were among the poorest of countries, but now both are better off than CAR. I believe that the reason for this is that the people have been able to go to school, farm their land and go to work – and these are the things that many people can’t do in CAR because of the fighting.”