2020 IN REVIEW
CAR HUMANITARIAN FUND AT A GLANCE
Almost two years after the signing of the Political Accord for Peace and Reconciliation (APPR), the Central African population is still hostage to an unstable and unpredictable security environment. Continuing conflicts in several areas of the country, structural weaknesses combined with the socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the devastating effects of natural disasters have plunged 2.6 million people into dire needs. Of this total, 1.6 million have severe humanitarian needs, a figure unmatched for five years, reflecting a deterioration in the physical and mental well-being and living conditions of populations across the country.
With increased funding, humanitarian actors were able to assist 1.4 million people targeted under the 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), or 78 per cent of the annual target (as of 30 September 2020). This cost/result ratio is unprecedented compared to previous years. It reflects the improved coordination of humanitarian actors, the strengthening of multisectoral interventions and a quality and proximity response, the gradual decentralization of the response to the most affected people, as well as improved humanitarian access in certain areas. Three-quarters of beneficiaries reported feeling safe when receiving humanitarian aid and feeling comfortable making complaints to humanitarian actors. Although the response cost remains very high due to logistical and structural constraints, humanitarian actors have managed to assist communities in areas that are ordinarily inaccessible, particularly in certain sub-prefectures in the northeast and southeast of the country, such as Bamingui-Bangoran, Basse-Kotto, and Haut-Mbomou.
In a context that is still volatile and where needs are constantly rising, humanitarian actors will work to ensure that their activities in favour of communities living in great distress are integrated and multisectoral.
Between January and August 2020, 1,104 violations of the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation (APPR) were recorded, 13 per cent more than in 2019 during the same period.
The western and central provinces concentrate the largest number of these incidents. The violent actions of armed groups and rivalries for the control of precious minerals (gold and diamonds), crime, and inter-community conflicts, including those linked to transhumance, have maintained or created in their wake new pockets of insecurity in the prefectures of Ouham-Pendé, Haute-Kotto, Basse-Kotto, and Bamingui-Bangoran. The civilian population and humanitarian organizations are paying a heavy price. From January to December 2020, 424 incidents directly affecting humanitarian personnel or goods were recorded, i.e. 40 per cent more incidents than in the same period in 2019, making the Central African Republic one of the most dangerous countries in the world for humanitarian actors.
Added to the security challenge was the collapse of the economy following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Already ranked penultimate on the Human Development Index (HDI), the Central African Republic has seen its economic growth prospects compromised by the slowdown in timber exports, difficulties in the supply of non-food goods, and the fall in the tertiary economy sector. Real gross domestic product (GDP) growth could drop from 3.2 per cent in 2019 to around 1 per cent in 2020. The budget balance, including grants, is expected to be a deficit of 2.0 per cent of GDP in 2020 against a surplus. 1.5 per cent of the initially anticipated GDP2. This economic contraction has had a significant impact on employment and household purchasing power as the median cost of the Minimum Basket of Survival Items (MBSI) increased by 10 per cent.
Some 2.6 million people need Protection and Assistance, including 1.6 million with severe needs, 12 per cent more than the previous year.
This progression illustrates the ever-increasing risks facing the Central African Republic. Natural disasters, the risk of a resurgence of the Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the weakness of the health system, the disturbances following the general elections held of 7 December and the persistence of conflicts contribute to placing the Central African Republic in fifth place in terms of risk level according to the INFORM 2021 index.
The presidential elections process started in December 2020 continued with notable progress, including the opening of 3,608 enrollment centers and the establishment of thousands of polling centers. However, the pre-and post-election period could see the emergence of public order disturbances in the capital and outbreaks of violence in the provinces. In this context, it is feared that the humanitarian space will be further reduced with attempts to politicize aid and restrict movement.
The proportion of shocks to civilians linked to violence and conflict is 2020 was double that of the previous year.
One in three Central Africans is displaced inside or outside the country. As of December 2020, 682,000 people were internally displaced, an increase of 13 per cent compared to the same time in 2019. 3,078 refugees fleeing armed violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo crossed the border in early May, contributing to an increase in the number of refugees and asylum seekers in the country - to 10,037 as of 31 October 2020.
The protection crisis now affects 2.6 million people. Women are at greater risk of domestic violence, as a result of restrictions and loss of income related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the Gender-Based Violence Information Management System (GBVIMS) covers only 42 per cent of the country, extrapolation of reported cases of gender-based violence (GBV) to the whole country shows that there is at least one case every hour. The closure of schools exposed children to sexual violence, risk of recruitment into armed groups and forced labour. Of all the serious violations of children's rights reported in through protection monitoring, 62 per cent were in April and May 2020 after the schools were closed. Rape, including the repeated rape of minors, and physical and psychological violence, occur with impunity in the absence of a functioning justice system.
While in greatest need of humanitarian assistance, people with disabilities often take a back seat.
Due to the stigma and rejection they face, people with disabilities are some-times abandoned when armed groups attack their communities or when their families evacuate flooded areas.
People with disabilities also find it very difficult to access basic services. A study by Humanity & Inclusion in the CAR reveals that 57 per cent of people with disabilities serveyed said they cannot get access to drinking water, and 40 per cent said they cannot access health care.
According to the Integrated Food Security Classification Framework (IPC) of September 2020, 1.9 million people were affected by acute food insecurity - a figure projected to rise to 2.3 million.
Due to the socio-economic impact of COVID-19, the number of food-insecure people in Bangui has almost doubled, now affecting 45 per cent of its inhabitants. New pockets of malnutrition have appeared among populations living in IDP sites and in rural areas where access to health care, food and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services is limited. Analysis of the severity of nutritional needs shows that 81 per cent of sub-prefectures are in a severe nutritional situation (Phase 3). Nationally, the severe acute malnutrition rate of 1.8 per cent is approaching the emergency threshold.
Years of conflict and underinvestment have had catastrophic consequences for access to basic essential services.
The number of people in need of WASH services increased by 8 per cent to 2.5 million at the beginning of 2021. The dilapidated water drainage systems and anarchic urbanism in flood-prone and marshy areas have increased the risk of spread of water-borne diseases, especially during the rainy season. Poor school infrastructure and overcrowded classrooms attest to the fragility of the education sector. The closure of schools following COVID-19-related restrictions and continued armed conflicts have deprived a growing number of children of their right to education. By 2021, the number of children in urgent need of education services increased by 30 per cent over 2020, to reach 1.3 million.