EU High-Level Meeting to Convene January 20 to Assess humanitarian challenges in CAR

Written by | Monday, December 30th, 2013

A European Union high-level meeting is to be held in Brussels on January 20 to assess the humanitarian challenges in the Central African Republic and identify priorities for a sustained and effective humanitarian engagement.
The meeting, to be convened at the call of the EU Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva, and the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, was decided in view of the escalating humanitarian catastrophe in the country and the imperative necessity to provide security for civilians and create a safe environment for the delivery of much-needed assistance by humanitarian agencies.
United Nations humanitarian agencies have warned that the humanitarian situation in the country is deteriorating because of the fighting between Christian and Muslim militias, with at least 600 people killed this month alone, and 159,000 others driven from their homes in Bangui. According to these agencies, up to a quarter of the CAR population is threatened by starvation because of the violence that makes it difficult to distribute assistance, while an estimated 10 percent of the CAR population are believed to have fled their homes.
The humanitarian actors in the country are appealing for $152 million to ensure protection for 1.2 million citizens over the next three months, and to host communities in Bangui and nine districts in western CAR.
CAR has been thrown into turmoil since Séléka rebels launched attacks a year ago and forced President François Bozizé to flee in March. A transitional government has since been entrusted with restoring peace and paving the way for democratic elections, but armed clashes have erupted again, and in Bangui Christians and Muslims launched reprisal attacks against each other in and around the city.
“The humanitarian tragedy in the Central African Republic continues to unravel in front of our eyes. The entire population of 4.6 million people is affected. 800,000 people are internally displaced. Since early December in the capital Bangui alone, the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) has grown from 30,000 to now over 370,000. 230,000 people have sought refuge in neighbouring countries, underlining the regional dimension of the disaster,” said Kristalina Georgieva in a statement on the escalating humanitarian catastrophe in CAR.
The number of people in need of life-saving assistance is increasing by the hour, she warned, deploring the enormous difficulties facing humanitarian organisations in delivering assistance safely to those in need.
“To avoid this tragedy spiralling further out of control, now is the time for concerted action. Those who fight must hear the plea of their people and of the humanitarian organisations to allow help to get to all in need. If necessary, there should be an increase in the international security presence,” the EU commissioner said.
In 2013, the Commission has provided almost €40 million in emergency relief, in addition to the important contributions from EU Member States. The Commission has also put in place a humanitarian air bridge into CAR from neighbouring Cameroon through its humanitarian air service, ECHO Flight.
The UN Security Council authorized earlier this month the deployment of the African-led International Support Mission (MISCA) to quell the spiralling violence and France intervened to support the mission.
Consultations are underway to address the mission’s capacity constraints by raising the number of personnel capable of providing security to the territory, undertake disarmament and support the organization of elections.
The UN has already started, at the request of the Security Council, to work on contingency planning and preparations to potentially transform MISCA into a UN peacekeeping operation.

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