United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, today called for greater and sustained commitment to the Central African Republic (CAR), which is grappling with a deepening humanitarian crisis.
“We must persevere in our support for the Central African Republic. The situation here needs to have the world’s attention. Not only are people suffering, but violence continues to be waged, preventing good governance, the delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance, and a chance for Central Africans to begin building a better future. Violence is also taking a toll on important achievements made to date,” he said.
Mr. O’Brien visited the CAR 20 to 23 October to see first-hand the humanitarian consequences of the conflict and efforts by aid organizations to respond to escalating needs. He was the first high-level official from United Nations headquarters to visit the country since violence broke out in September, displacing more than 62,000 people. USG O’Brien visited the Saint Sauveur IDP site and PK5 neighbourhood in Bangui, as well as the Dekoa area, where more than 10,000 people were recently displaced.
“I have spoken to internally displaced people in Dekoa. I have heard from them what it is like to escape from violence, looking for safety. I have witnessed the extraordinary efforts made by humanitarian actors to bring them life-saving assistance and protection, despite challenging circumstances. The humanitarian community will continue to do its best to help the women, children and men of the Central African Republic throughout this crisis. We are here to stay and deliver,” said Mr. O’Brien.
This new outbreak of violence has aggravated an already dire humanitarian situation. Some 2.7 million people – more than half of the country’s population – need humanitarian assistance; some 400,000 people are internally displaced; and some 454,000 people have sought refuge in neighbouring countries. During meetings with members of the transitional Government, the Emergency Relief Coordinator urged respect for humanitarian principles, for free movement, and for access for humanitarian workers to those in need.
“People have only one wish: to go home and to return to their lives in safety. It is our collective responsibility to provide them with shelter, assistance and protection, until such time as the conditions are sufficient for their voluntary return,” noted Mr. O’Brien. “It is also essential that national authorities further their efforts to protect civilians and to support the free movement of people, particularly those who are at risk.”
USG O’Brien today released US$12 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to support life-saving assistance for people affected by the conflict in CAR. “CERF continues to provide a life-line for humanitarian operations in CAR, but additional funds are urgently needed to meet the scale of the challenge,” said Mr. O’Brien. “I urge donors to continue supporting vital relief efforts in CAR.”