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.
In 2012, the European Commission has allocated €8 million in humanitarian aid to CAR. Humanitarian assistance is focused on strengthening Rapid Response Mechanisms among humanitarian organizations, with the aim of providing lifesaving assistance including water and sanitation, non-food items and treatment of severe malnutrition. ECHO assistance in CAR also includes emergency food aid to internally displaced and vulnerable people, short term livelihood support, health, psychosocial and medical support to the victims of violence, and financial support to the humanitarian air service.