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What’s Happening in the Central African Republic?

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Human Wrongs Watch By Marion Guenard | Norwegian Refugee Council*

4 July 2024 — The crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR) has been overlooked for years. A landlocked country in the heart of central west Africa, CAR continues to pay the price of a long-standing conflict, and one in five Central Africans remains displaced.


This family fled their village of Loura in CAR after atrocities were committed against civilians. Photo: Marion Guenard/NRC

Here are five things you need to know about what’s happening in CAR.

#1: A decade of conflict

Ten years have passed since CAR last experienced stability and peace. The civilian population is caught between warring parties. Different armed groups and loyalist forces and their allies are fighting each other for the control and exploitation of raw materials.

Violence against civilians and extreme weather events continue to cause displacement. As of January 2024, 2.8 million people need humanitarian assistance, equivalent to 46 per cent of the total population.

In 2023, three million people were severely food insecure, meaning they lacked reliable access to food and sometimes went more than a day without eating.

#2: Crumbling infrastructure

Access to basic services, particularly healthcare and drinking water, remains limited. A decade of conflict has hampered the development of public services, including critical infrastructure such as hospitals, schools and transport.

The few paved roads that connect the country are not enough to reach remote regions, which are sometimes plagued by insecurity.

The rainy season affects trade and mobility, since most of the roads are unpaved tracks. Accidents involving improvised explosive devices (IEDs), such as roadside bombs, are on the rise.

Between January and June 2024, 14 people, including seven civilians, were killed in 33 incidents involving IEDs. Civilians are the main victims of these booby-trapped devices.

#3: Education system stretched to breaking point

With half of CAR’s population under the age of 18, armed conflict and population displacement are having a devastating effect on children’s schooling.

It is estimated that seven out of ten children do not attend school regularly, and around 1.2 million children are facing difficulties accessing education.

Financial constraints combined with insecurity are forcing children to drop out of school. Families struggling to meet basic needs find it impossible to pay for school supplies and uniforms.

And when children are not in school, they are exposed to protection risks, including recruitment by armed groups, and being forced into child labour or child marriage.

A lot of school infrastructure has been destroyed, and qualified teachers are abandoning their posts in search of safety and a secure income, especially in remote areas. In basic primary 1, there is an average of 120 pupils for every tenured teacher.

To make up for this shortage, a system of maîtres-parents (parent teachers) has developed, whereby parents are appointed by the community to teach children in return for a meagre allowance.

Maîtres-parents account for 65 per cent of the teaching force. Having received little to no training and an inadequate income, they often give up their teaching roles within the year.

#4: Crises in bordering countries

CAR shares almost 1,200 kilometres of border with Chad. This border area is frequently subject to incursions by armed groups and serves as a breeding ground for inter-community tensions, especially between nomadic livestock herders and settled agricultural communities.

As well as impacting the direct victims of the clashes, conflict is disrupting trade on both sides of the border. This is exacerbating the already severe food insecurity in the region. Prices of basic foodstuff, such as millet, have doubled.

Moreover, this region in CAR has received over 38,000 Central African returnees and Chadians fleeing Chad since April 2023.

This situation is mirrored in the north-east. Since April 2023, 31,649 people forcibly displaced from Sudan have found refuge on Central African soil.

The main urban centres in north-eastern CAR, such as Birao and Ndélé, have traditionally been supplied by Sudan. Since the start of the Sudan war, trade in foodstuffs has been disrupted, particularly during the rainy season.

As a result, food prices have risen by 50 per cent in a region already experiencing severe food insecurity, and this is likely to worsen during the lean season in the summer.

#5: One of the world’s most neglected crises

Despite severe needs and deteriorating conditions, humanitarian donors are turning away from the Central African crisis, while funding for development has not increased.

In 2023, only 59 per cent of the funds required by the humanitarian response plan were received – USD 296.7 million out of the required USD 533.3 million.

Media coverage and political commitment to resolve the crisis in CAR are negligible, low-profile, and among the lowest of the ten most neglected crises in the world identified by NRC in 2023.

*SOURCE: The Norwegian Refugee Council. Go to ORIGINAL: 2024 Human Wrongs Watch


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