More than five years after the crisis broke out in December 2013, the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) remains extremely worrying. Violence between armed groups and against civilians, targeting schools, health facilities and sites hosting internally displaced people, has forced thousands of people to flee. As a result, a quarter of the population is either internally displaced or living as a refugee in neighbouring countries. The European Union supports those most affected by providing basic items and services such as food, healthcare, emergency shelter, water and sanitation, and protection of civilians.
Violence and insecurity have forced a quarter of the population to flee their homes. Against this backdrop, humanitarian needs have significantly increased. About 2.9 million people are in need of humanitarian aid. Livelihoods and agricultural activities are severely affected by violence; families have less household income while facing food price increases. Some 1.5 million children require humanitarian assistance. It is estimated that 43 000 children under five years of age will suffer from severe acute malnutrition in 2019.
Humanitarian organisations deliver assistance in a difficult and dangerous environment. Insecurity and the lack of transport infrastructure impede humanitarian access. Humanitarian workers are regularly targeted by armed groups and criminals. In 2018, seven aid workers lost their lives due to attacks, while 396 security incidents against aid workers were recorded.
Humanitarian needs in the CAR remain unmet and the crisis has spilled over into neighbouring countries. The crisis in the CAR and the situation of Central African refugees in Cameroon and Chad are considered a forgotten humanitarian crisis by the European Union.
With over €558 million provided since 2014, the European Union and its Member States are the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to the Central African Republic. The European Union alone has provided over €136 million in humanitarian aid for the CAR since 2014.
The European Union’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department (ECHO) primarily focuses on covering the needs of the most affected people, including food, healthcare, emergency shelter, water and sanitation, education, and protection of civilians. Relief assistance is provided to internally displaced people, host communities and refugees, who mostly rely on humanitarian assistance for their survival.
The EU funds food assistance, short-term livelihood and agricultural support, and free access to primary healthcare services with a focus on life-saving interventions. Projects seeking to improve the protection of civilians also receive EU support. They include the prevention of sexual violence, medical, psychosocial, and legal support to victims, and actions offering a protective and educational environment for children.
To respond to sudden the displacement of people, the EU funds the rapid response mechanism. Its purpose is to monitor the humanitarian situation, deliver essential items (such as soap, jerry cans, cooking utensils, mattresses, blankets) and provide access to water, sanitation and hygiene to those who had to leave everything behind and flee their homes quickly.
The EU also supports humanitarian coordination, the security of humanitarians and the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) that enables the delivery of humanitarian assistance in a country where violence is rife and transport infrastructure is poor.
The crisis in the CAR also has an impact on neighbouring countries, with 577 000 Central African refugees hosted mainly in Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Chad. Their prolonged stay puts pressure on the local host communities and their already scarce resources. In these neighbouring countries, the EU delivers humanitarian assistance to both the host communities and the Central African refugees.