Escalating Violence Threatens Thousands in the Central African Republic
After suffering a coup in early 2013, the Central African Republic was left with a challenging humanitarian situation, with an estimated 1.5 million citizens in need of assistance. In December, conditions deteriorated further as escalating violence threatened the lives of thousands of people already living on the brink of survival. Residents of Bossangoa, a town in the northwest region of the country, are fleeing for safety and gathering in two makeshift camps. In response to the growing crisis, Action Against Hunger’s teams are working quickly to provide critical emergency services to those in need.
Thousands seeking refuge
Amidst violent clashes over the last two months, an estimated 40,000 people have sought refuge at a makeshift camp near a local church in Bossangoa. Another camp sprang up at a local school, where the number of refugees swelled from around 1,600 to 7,000 in a matter of weeks. Though displaced people seek protection in the camps, they now face other serious health risks. Alexis Ottenwalter, one of our Field Managers in Bossangoa, describes the dire situation:
“We no longer recognize the makeshift camp around the school—the number of displaced people increased four times in just a few days, with so many people crammed into a tiny space. Water, sanitation and hygiene needs are critical because the camp only has one water source, which increases the risk of waterborne disease outbreaks.”
– Alexis Ottenwalter, Field Manager, Action Against Hunger, Bossangoa
Responding to the crisis
To help prevent waterborne diseases, our water, sanitation and hygiene experts are building latrines, installing a 5,000-gallon water tank, and managing waste disposal in the camps. We’re collaborating closely with other humanitarian agencies to improve displaced people’s living conditions and prepare for the arrival of more refugees. Beyond responding immediately in the wake of conflict, we’re working to help affected people rebuild their lives.
“We must strengthen the emergency response immediately. The needs to access to healthcare, water, and food are great. We must also look to the future and plan how to help Central Africans rebuild their lives through long-term development projects.”
– Alain Coutand, Regional Director of Operations, Action Against Hunger
To help people in need across the country in the long term, we’re supporting health centers, and treating and preventing malnutrition and other life-threatening diseases. We will also be providing families with vouchers for food, helping farmers maintain their plots, and supporting local markets. Our goal is to restore normalcy and self-sufficiency for all families affected by crisis in the Central African Republic.