1. Humanitarian impact over the last six months (October 2020 – March 2021)
Impact on people
The humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) has further worsened over the past six months. Election-related violence that broke out in mid-December 2020 has had a devastating effect on civilians. Thousands of people have been forced to flee, human rights violations have surged, hundreds of schools and dozens of hospitals have been forcibly closed and food prices have skyrocketed. This deterioration occurred in an already alarming context, with more than half of the population (2.8 million people) in need of humanitarian assistance and protection and 1.9 million people in acute need. In the past five years, there have never been as many people in humanitarian distress in CAR as today.
The security situation has deteriorated across the entire country. Between October 2020 and mid-March 2021, armed conflicts occurred in all sixteen prefectures with the exception of Vakaga and Bamingui-Bangoran. During this period, the UNICEF/Rapid Response Mechanism issued 58 new alerts, 57 per cent due to clashes and violence. Two-thirds of the violence-related alerts were recorded in just three prefectures in the west and centre of the country: Ouaka, Ouham and Ombella M’Poko. In the second half of December 2020, ahead of the 27 December elections, people reported 110 security alerts to an NGO-run hotline – nearly a third of all security-related alerts received during the year (399).
In addition, the UNHCR community-based alert mechanism reported that existing protection risks and trends have been exacerbated by the crisis. While 35 per cent of the protection incidents reported in 2020 have been attributed to armed groups, more than half of the reported protection incidents have allegedly been perpetrated by armed groups since the upsurge of violence late 2020.
To the benefit of the civilian population, the turmoil around the December vote was not repeated three months later. The second round of legislative elections took place peacefully on 14 March 2021. No major incident was reported and 90 per cent of polling stations were operational in most prefectures.
Although the recent clashes erupted in the west and centre, data from the Hard to Reach assessments conducted by the REACH Initiative (February 2021) showed that tensions also extended to the east of the country. In three quarters of the 108 remote localities assessed in the south-east (Bambouti, Obo, Djema, Zémio, Bangassou, Bakouma, Gambo and Ouango sub-prefectures), the population experienced a violent shock causing displacement over the 30 days prior to the assessment. 91 per cent of 32 localities assessed in Ouango, Gambo and Mingala sub-prefectures experienced a violent shock that caused displacement in the past 30 days.
Human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law increased. From October 2020 to February 2021, MINUSCA Human Rights Division recorded 357 human rights violations, affecting 615 people and 60 conflict-related civilian deaths (48 men, 7 women, 2 boys, and 3 girls). Since 15 December 2020, health actors have treated 452 people injured by the recent clashes and violence across the country, including 29 girls and 30 boys. UNHCR protection monitoring reports indicate a rise in restrictions of movements, illegal taxes, and property occupations and/ or extortions. Community-based protection mechanisms have reported cases of trauma, particularly among displaced people on the axes and scattered in the bush.