What are the needs?
Central African Republic (CAR) is one of the world's poorest countries, and ranks 185 out of 187 in the United Nations Human Development Index. Decades of political instability and natural disasters have contributed to the destruction of the national economy, lack of infrastructural development and the overall weakening of state institutions. Turmoil in neighbouring Chad, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo overshadowed the humanitarian situation in the country, turning it into a "forgotten crisis". Following a regime change in March 2013 national authorities struggled to restore order, and since the beginning of December 2013 inter-communal violence has escalated dramatically leading to widespread human rights violations and killings.
Over half of the 4.6 million population is in need of humanitarian assistance. Massive displacement, destruction of property and loss of livelihoods have exacerbated vulnerabilities of an already fragile population. Priority needs include food, healthcare, water, sanitation and hygiene, shelter and basic household items. The protection of civilians also raises major concerns, and lack of access and general insecurity make the relief efforts particularly challenging.
How are we helping?
The European Union as a whole - Commission and Member States - is the largest donor of life-saving assistance to CAR, with funding of over €76 million in 2013. The total commitment has been considerably stepped up in light of the evolving needs. The European Commission alone increased its humanitarian funding to €51 million since the outbreak of violence in early December 2013, with an additional €10 million in aid for CAR refugees in neighbouring countries and €39 million in development funds. Moreover, the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) has organised repeated airlifts from Europe and the region to ferry relief supplies and aid workers to the country.
ECHO is supporting projects covering protection, access to health care, food and nutrition assistance, distribution of clean water, sanitation services, logistics and humanitarian coordination. Refugees who settled in CAR in the last years are also being assisted. Nutritional surveillance and treatment integrated into health services is a priority in a country where some 1.7 million people are food insecure.
EU humanitarian funds are also helping improve the emergency response capacities of UN agencies and NGOs, from rapid deployments and needs assessments to timely responses.