In recent years, the Central African Republic has been through various outbreaks of violence between armed groups and both national and foreign forces. As a result, more than half of the population of 5 million is in need of humanitarian assistance.
New clashes during the presidential elections in the last days of 2020 have exacerbated the already extreme and difficult living conditions for the population.
A coalition consisting of previous warring parties opened fire on government forces and UN troops throughout the country and entered the capital in an attempt to overthrow the government.
The Central African Republic right now: complicated, volatile and fragile
Re-elected president Faustin-Archange Touaderá has declared a 15-day state of emergency. To keep peace in his country, Touaderá depends on the UN mission MINUSCA as well as other foreign players, among which Russia and France, complicating the already volatile and fragile situation in this nation in the heart of Africa.
Saa Millimono is a humanitarian aid field coordinator for Cordaid in the Central African Republic. Straight from the epicentre of this tormented country, he gives an update on the situation on the ground.
Although life seems to have returned to normal in the capital of Bangui, the consequences of a new conflict are immediately palpable all over the country, says Millimono. “The prices of food and other essential goods have increased considerably. This is a result of the blockade imposed by the coalition of armed groups between Bangui and Douala in Cameroon, the main port of supply. Also, the other provinces cannot be supplied from the capital, which is a major concern.”
After a large attack on the outskirts of Bangui, travel in large parts of the country has been severely restricted. To prevent further attacks, the government has issued a curfew and is actively reducing the movement of people, whilst still allowing limited movement of government and allied troops.
Impact on Cordaid’s programmes
“This situation has made our work very difficult, as staff cannot travel to make assessments and provide assistance to those in need”, Millimono explains. “The impact on Cordaid’s programmes can be quite severe. In some cases, we cannot work in our offices, due to the curfew. We have difficulty to deploy staffs in the field, despite the enormous needs, some new projects are now delayed, and the higher food prices make aid provision more costly. Also, some staff have had to move their entire households to safer neighbourhoods. Some of them live in fear.”
As a humanitarian and development organisation with decades of experience in the world’s most fragile and conflict-affected areas, Cordaid will implement its know-how to keep supporting people in need, no matter how difficult and unpredictable the circumstances. “We need to make an objective analysis of the evolution of the security situation and take a decision on the redeployment of staff”, says Millimono. “We will Coordinate with other humanitarian actors, the government and the United Nations to restart our activities and we will be asking the parties in the conflict to facilitate humanitarian access.”