Decades of political instability, compounded by natural disasters, have contributed to the destruction of the national economy, lack of infrastructural development, and the overall weakening of state institutions in the Central African Republic (CAR). Of the total population of 4.5 million, over 1.5 million people live in a state of humanitarian emergency. Crises in neighbouring Chad, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo are overshadowing the humanitarian situation in the country and turning it into a "forgotten" emergency.
Lack of access and general insecurity, especially in the northern and eastern parts of the country, make the humanitarian response particularly challenging, despite the fact that needs remain great. Large parts of the population depend on humanitarian aid to provide basic services such as water, sanitation, health and education. Long-term recovery is hampered due to insecurity and weak governance structures.
The country ranks 179 out of 187 in the United Nations Human Development Index.
The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department's (ECHO) priority in the Central African Republic is to assist the most vulnerable people in the conflict areas of the country. The initial €8 million envelope for 2013 has been increased to €20 million, making ECHO the country’s main donor. The funding aims to support the internally displaced Central Africans who have been affected by the recent emergency as well as helping the CAR returnees, that have been able to return to their areas of origin, to resume their lives. Congolese refugees who have taken refuge in CAR since 2009 are also assisted with basic services. Nutritional surveillance and treatment integrated into health services is a focus in a country where 174 out of every 1000 children die before the age of five. The funding also supports an enhanced capacity for emergency humanitarian response of UN agencies and NGOs; from rapid deployments and assessments to timely responses.