The war-torn Central African Republic (CAR) is one of the most underdeveloped countries in the world, and has suffered decades of political instability and violence.
In March 2013, rebels seized power in a military coup. Since then, sectarian fighting has displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians.
Looting, rape and pillage have been rife, and thousands of people have been killed.
‘Human rights abuses are escalating and hundreds of people are reported to have been killed every day,’ warns Salome Ntububa, our Regional Emergency Officer for Central Africa.
‘Humanitarian assistance is critical since many local and international organisations are struggling to access the most vulnerable people, particularly children and the elderly, who are trapped in the most affected zones of the country.’
Lack of food and risk of disease
The United Nations estimates that over half of the population need urgent humanitarian assistance.¹
Due to the conflict many people were unable to plant crops, or their fields were destroyed, meaning the harvests have been poor and food is scarce.
The conflict has also kept people away from towns and markets for fear of attack, and food prices have risen a staggering 30%, causing many to go hungry.²
Access to clean water and good sanitation facilities is very challenging, particularly now the rainy season has arrived, and the risk of cholera outbreaks remains high.
A UNICEF survey released on 9 May revealed that two thirds of schools remain closed, and that children’s education had been severely disrupted since 2012.
Many families are too afraid to send their children back to school even if they are open, and teachers have not been paid for several months.
We have sent £69,770 to our emergency response partner, the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), to support water committees, provide sanitation education, and increase access to clean water through the installation and rehabilitation of boreholes and wells.
This project forms part of the ACT Alliance appeal and will work in Ouham Pendé and Nana Mambéré prefectures, north of the capital city Bangui, where access to fresh, clean water for huge numbers of displaced families is very problematic.
‘Surface water is often contaminated, people do not have containers with which to carry or store the water, and the few wells or boreholes around are in a state of total disrepair,' said Adrian Ouvry, Head of Humanitarian Programmes at Christian Aid.
'Most families are depending on natural water sources, such as polluted streams, for all their water needs.’
LWF is also providing tents and non-food items to thousands of families fleeing the conflict.
¹ OCHA situation report, 14 May 2014
² Reference as above