More than three years after the crisis broke out in December 2013, the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) remains extremely grave on the humanitarian front. Humanitarian needs persist and have even increased since the outbreak of violence in early 2017. Clashes between armed groups hamper the delivery of aid for people in need. The CAR is the most dangerous country in the world for aid workers, second only to Syria.
Approximately 2.4 million people - half of the country's total population - need humanitarian assistance. Some 2.1 million people are food insecure.
The health system has collapsed due to widespread violence, destruction and looting of public infrastructure. Less than 35% of the population has access to safe drinking water. At the sites of displaced people there is a lack of hygiene and sanitation infrastructure. Providing emergency shelter and distributing basic building materials and tools remains a priority.
National resources to assist affected populations are very limited. The CAR must rely on international humanitarian organisations to put in place the bulk of basic services across the country. However, relief activities are conducted in conditions of insecurity that limit the deployment of aid. Difficult access to the areas most affected by recent violence such as Zemio, Gambo, Bangassou or Alindao, and repeated attacks on aid workers resulted in a temporary suspension of aid. The physical protection of civilians is a major challenge and the UN force (MINUSCA) is struggling to intervene when faced with armed groups.
The crisis has spilled over into neighbouring countries (in particular in Chad and Cameroon) and the effects are considerable. The needs of refugees in these countries must be addressed in an appropriate manner. The conflict in CAR continues to cause thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees in neighbouring countries, including Cameroon (275 000) and the DRC (100 000).
With a contribution of more than €395 million since 2014, the European Union and its Member States are the largest humanitarian donors in CAR. The European Commission has invested €129 million in humanitarian aid in the country since December 2013. In addition, €83 million in aid has gone to Central African refugees in neighbouring countries. The European Commission's humanitarian aid mainly provides health/nutrition, food aid, emergency shelter, drinking water and protection needs. Emergency relief mainly focuses on displaced populations, both inside and outside IDP sites.
The EU is funding humanitarian projects for free access to quality primary health care, including mobile clinics. Projects to improve the protection of civilians also receive funding, including incident monitoring projects, medical, psychosocial and legal support for victims, as well as actions to provide a protective environment for children.
Food distribution to displaced populations and host populations is one of the Commission's priorities. This may be in the form of in-kind assistance. Where markets and security permits, remittances to the most vulnerable populations can be a useful solution. In addition, EU humanitarian aid supports combined actions for the provision of drinking water, the restoration of sanitary facilities and the promotion of good hygiene measures. In overcrowded IDP camps, these kinds of actions are crucial to preventing the emergence of diseases or epidemics. Emergency shelters and non-food items, such as blankets and mosquito nets, are made available to the population.
In 2017, the European Commission is supporting operations support services. From coordination (OCHA and CCO/coordination of INGOs) to air transport (UNHAS) up to the service for analysing the context of security (INSO). These services are essential for the effective delivery of humanitarian aid in a vast country destabilised by a protracted conflict, and where the people most in need of aid are only reachable by air.