More than four years after the crisis broke out in December 2013, the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) remains extremely worrying. Since May 2017, new violence between armed groups has forced thousands of people to flee, resulting in a quarter of the population either being 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. Extreme poverty and lack of basic services further exacerbate living conditions. Against this backdrop, humanitarian needs have significantly increased, reaching levels similar to the peak of the crisis in 2014. Half the population needs humanitarian assistance. Livelihoods and agricultural activities are severely affected by violence, resulting in a substantial decrease in household income compounded by food price increases. Chronic malnutrition is currently among the highest in the world and affects around 40% of children under 5 years, according to UNICEF.
CAR has the second highest newborn mortality rate in the world. The weak national health system has collapsed and there is a severe shortage of skilled health workers and medical supplies. About 60% of health infrastructures are supported by humanitarian organisations. This lack of access to basic healthcare has serious repercussions for the population.
Humanitarian needs in CAR remain unmet and the crisis has spilled over into neighbouring countries. The crisis in CAR and the situation of the Central African refugees in Cameroun and Chad are considered a forgotten humanitarian crisis by the European Commission.
With over €500 million provided since 2014, the European Union (Commission + Member States) is the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to CAR. The European Commission alone has provided over €166.5 million in humanitarian aid since 2014.
The Commission's European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department (ECHO) primarily focuses on covering the needs of the most affected populations, including food, healthcare, emergency shelter, water and sanitation, 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 interventions to enable 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. It includes prevention of sexual violence, medical, psychosocial, and legal support to victims, and actions offering a protective and educative environment for children.
To respond to sudden displacements of populations, the EU funds the rapid response mechanism. It monitors the humanitarian situation, delivers essential items (such as soap, jerry cans, cooking utensils, mattresses, blankets) and provides access to water, sanitation and hygiene to those who had to flee from their homes quickly, leaving everything behind.
The European Commission also supports humanitarian coordination, the security of humanitarians and the UN humanitarian air services (UNHAS), which enable the delivery of humanitarian assistance in a country affected by widespread violence and with very poor transport infrastructure.
The crisis also affects neighbouring countries with some 573 000 Central African refugees mainly in Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Chad. Their prolonged stay puts pressure on the local host communities and already scarce resources. In these neighbouring countries, the EU also delivers humanitarian assistance to both host communities and Central African refugees.