A U.N. official said Wednesday that the Central African Republic is facing a humanitarian crisis, with 2.4 million people in need of assistance and the UN’s $534 million appeal barely 36% financed. According to Mohamed Ag Ayoya, deputy special representative for the United Nations peacekeeping force in the country, ten years of conflict have displaced half a million people within the country, while 700,000 have fled to neighboring countries. CAR is a mineral-rich but impoverished country with a population of 6 million people.
However, Ayoya stated that CAR has also welcomed 38,000 returnees and asylum seekers from Chad, as well as 18,000 returnees and asylum seekers from Sudan, where a conflict between opposing generals and their followers is already in its fifth month. Ayoya emphasized that CAR is “not just a humanitarian crisis; it is also a protection and gender crisis.”
There had been a “extremely high” number of cases of gender-based violence in the first six months of 2023 – 11,000 – and the number is likely higher because these cases aren’t often reported, he said. CAR has been embroiled in intercommunal conflict since 2013, when largely Muslim Seleka rebels seized control and deposed then-President Francois Bozize. Later, mostly Christian militias fought back, targeting civilians in the streets. The United Nations estimates that thousands of people have died as a result of the violence.
Central African President’s Close Ties with Russia’s Wagner Mercenaries Raise Concerns Over Political Influence and Security
President Faustin Archange Touadera of the Central African Republic has built tight links with Russia and its Wagner mercenary squad, whose men have served as his personal bodyguards. Wagner has also shielded Bangui from rebel attacks and assisted Touadera in winning the July 30 constitutional referendum, which could extend his rule indefinitely.
Following the death of Wagner’s leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, in a plane crash in Russia last month, the Republican Front in the Central African Republic, an ally of the country’s ruling party, declared that they were “determined to fight alongside the African people as they struggle for self-determination.”
According to Ayoya, security in the country has improved, and humanitarian workers have been able to enter locations that they could not access in the previous ten years. According to him, there are armed groups and security concerns around CAR’s borders with Sudan, Chad, and South Sudan, as well as minefields and explosives in the west.
The broad presence of the United Nations peacekeeping force, known as MINUSCA, and its mandate, which includes the protection of humanitarian convoys, he said, “has been very, very helpful.”
Ayoya urged the international community to keep a spotlight on the humanitarian crisis and the need for more funding for CAR, which he described as “Africa’s overlooked middle child, one that is… landlocked and often forgotten, inside a troubled region that has become even more troubled with the new events that have occurred in recent weeks.”
He stated that U.N. humanitarian appeals for the country in 2021 and 2022 were over 95% financed, and that the present appeal’s financing of only 36% at this time of year is extremely concerning. The United Nations stated on Tuesday that it would provide CAR with $6.5 million from its emergency relief budget.
Ayoya also emphasized that CAR requires long-term solutions and development financing. “We can’t just keep doing firefighting,” he remarked.
Source: ABC News