Central African Republic
The current humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) is dire, as a result of years of armed conflict as well as a structurally weak state structure and absent public services. The population suffers daily violence and widespread human rights violations including torture, sexual violence, extrajudicial executions and forced disappearance. Despite an on-going peace process and political transition, which led to elections in March 2016, no comprehensive and inclusive political settlement has been reached and the root causes of violence in CAR remain largely unaddressed. These include:
- The absence of an effective, functioning state apparatus providing basic services to the population;
- Countries in the region seeking to protect their economic and political interests; and
- Local actors seeking personal gain by mobilizing youth to join armed groups, drawing on long-standing grievances and feelings of marginalization.
The armed conflict further deepens pre-existing religious and ethnic divisions between communities, undermining attempts to build peace. From mid-2016 and throughout 2017, the intensification of conflict caused an increased number of population movements. According to UNHCR, as of January 2018, 688 700 people are internally displaced and 542 380 are refugees in Cameroun, Chad and DR Congo, notably. The escalating armed violence, in addition to the recurring severe threats against humanitarian actors restricts humanitarian access. CAR is now the world’s’ second-most dangerous place to deliver humanitarian assistance. In 2017 alone, there were 230 incidents targeting humanitarian actors and 12 aid workers were killed.
DRC has worked with displaced people and crisis affected populations in CAR since 2007. From 2007 until 2012, DRC implemented a large variety of activities covering protection, emergency education, rehabilitation, food security and livelihood, supporting communities in a long transition from emergency to early recovery. With the return of armed violence in 2012 and the coup in March 2013, DRC reoriented its activities toward emergency response, protection and social cohesion, becoming a leading NGO in these sectors. DRC works with displacement and conflict-affected populations in the most afflicted North-western provinces of Ouham and Ouham-Pende, bordering Cameroon and Chad, with the aim to strengthen protection capacities and enable durable solutions to displacement challenges. In addition, DRC supports economic recovery in Bangui where there is a strong presence of returnees, IDPs living in extremely precarious conditions, youth at risk and widespread significant protection and livelihood needs.
One of DRC’s flagship programmes is a highly innovative and acclaimed free protection telephone hotline, with nationwide coverage, which the population can use if they experience abuses. Callers can receive psychosocial support and referrals to appropriate services, whilst also helping provide information used by DRC in coordination with other humanitarian organisations to adapt their responses to human rights’ violations. In rural areas DRC provides food security and livelihoods assistance to nearly 100 000 people affected by conflict and displacement through the provision of seeds and agricultural tools, non-food item distributions to IDPs consisting of essential household goods (soap, blankets, mosquito nets etc.), livestock vaccination, as well as support for income generating activities.
DRC also carries out protection monitoring activities and implements social cohesion and community dialogue processes to support peaceful coexistence of communities long torn apart by conflict. When armed violence decreases and IDPs and refugees begin to return to their homes, DRC accompanies them in the process by helping with shelter, agriculture and livestock management and the resumption of small businesses and trade. In this complex environment DRC works with different local partners and state services to reinforce the resilience capacities of returnees and resident communities.