Central African Republic: UN chief says security fragile, calls for vote by August 2015

Members of one family uprooted when the violence erupted last year take shade and a rest under an umbrella at a site for internally displaced people in Bangui, Central African Republic (CAR). Photo: UNHCR/S. Phelps

5 December 2014 – The United Nations Secretary-General met today with the Head of State of the Transition of the Central African Republic, Catherine Samba-Panza, noting that the security situation in the country remained fragile, and agreeing on the need for urgent progress to establish an inclusive political process.

Mr. Ban expressed appreciation for the announcement, with the support of the international community, to convene the Bangui Forum as early as possible next year, and to complete the election process before August 2015. He urged Ms Samba-Panza to continue showing leadership to ensure a successful, inclusive, transparent transition was completed in a timely manner.

Meanwhile, the UN Senior Humanitarian Coordinator for the Central African Republic (CAR), Claire Bourgeois, recalled that one year ago, a cycle of violence reached Bangui triggering the displacement of half a million people, accompanied by the massacre of innocent civilians, leaving deep wounds in the communities that still have difficulties in living side by side today.

“More attention needs to be given to CAR in order to find appropriate and immediate solutions to the complexity of the current humanitarian crisis which stemmed from a persisting political, developmental and humanitarian crisis spanning over many years,” she said, underscoring that despite the progress achieved so far, she strongly condemned the upsurge in violence that occurred yesterday, causing more bereavement to the population in Bambari.

In addition, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) warned that the CAR faced one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises, with more than 187,000 refugees having fled to neighbouring countries over the last year, bringing the total number of refugees and internally displaced people over 850,000, about a fifth of the country’s entire population.

“Some 430,000 people remain displaced, half a million less than at the end of December 2013,” UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler, briefing reporters in Geneva earlier today. He stressed that the improvement did not mean an end to the crisis.

“The security situation in the country remains volatile, with sporadic incidents of violence as witnessed in October, when clashes broke out between militias and international forces,” he said, warning: “It is at risk of becoming overshadowed by other pressing crises if more support is not provided.”

UNHCR and its partners presented a Regional Refugee Response Plan in 2014 that included financial requirements of $209 million. The response is currently funded at only 51 per cent and Mr. Spindler urged donors and the international community “to provide continued support and hope to the beleaguered citizens of the Central African Republic.”

“The one-year anniversary of the conflict marks one year that children have been out of school, a year of learning lost, and a year of their lives scarred and shattered,” said Sarah Crowe of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

“Nearly two years of violence in the Central African Republic has affected more than two million children and plunged the country’s formal education system into a state of crisis. Many school buildings had been damaged, looted or taken over for other purposes.”

UNICEF launched a campaign in November that aimed to help return hundreds of thousands of children to school after the deterioration in the security situation forced many teachers and students to flee.

The “Back to School” initiative aimed to help a total of 662,000 children to resume their studies, and UNICEF is delivering “school in a box” kits that contain essential equipment, such as exercise books and pencils, and school backpacks, to enable children to resume their educations. Currently, 300,000 children were reported back in school, a significant step that has had “a ripple effect throughout the whole community and lent a sense of momentum and optimism.”


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