Elisabeth is Action Against Hunger's senior communications officer, reporting on our impact and current events around the world.
The Central African Republic, After the Coup: “A Fast Recovery. That’s Our Priority.”
After a coup in the Central African Republic last month, things are slowly returning to a state of calm. But there’s a long way to go, and the humanitarian needs are great. We asked our Country Director, Clement Cazaubon, about the situation on the ground.
Q: What is the current situation in the capital city, Bangui, and around the country?
A: The situation is gradually returning to calm, but remains tense with sporadic gunfire and clashes across the city. People are displaced from their homes. In the provinces, particularly in the country’s southwest and southeast, the situation is still very volatile, due to the decline of the army loyal to the former regime and troop advances.
And while forms of banditry routinely take place in the Central African Republic, incidents are on the rise. War contexts always lead to a kind of generalized anarchy where everyone tries to get something out of the game—crime, banditry and the settling of accounts are particularly strong at the moment. The tensions between ethnic and inter-religious groups are also being monitored.
“The coup is exacerbating an already precarious situation for a country marred by chronic poverty and food insecurity. Within a month we’ll be in the lean season, and food prices will surge even higher.”
—Clement Cazaubon, Central African Republic Country Director, Action Against Hunger
Q: What are the priorities in terms of humanitarian response?
A: At the moment, there is still too much insecurity to fully assess the scope of what’s needed. This is especially true in the provinces. We’re concerned that it is impossible for people to get some basic goods, and that includes food. Food is available at market, but many people are afraid to move too much—and many people don’t have the funds to pay for food. Crisis really began in this country four months ago, and civil servants, for example, have not been paid since December.
There is no financial stability here. In rural areas, farmers and pastoralists are finding their stocks and cattle looted. The coup is exacerbating an already precarious situation for a country marred by chronic poverty and food insecurity. Within a month we’ll be in the lean season, and food prices will surge even higher. We will have to follow the food security and nutrition situations closely in the coming months. We also want to help restore some basic necessities to help heath centers, many of which were looted or destroyed, get back up and running.
Q: How is Action Against Hunger responding?
A: The first thing for Action Against Hunger to do is re-establish our presence—simply by being present in a community, we can help make things calmer, reassure the population. We’ve been lucky—we were able to save the vast majority of our inventory, equipment, and offices. Our 15 health centers where we treat malnourished children in Bangui are fine. Thanks to the extraordinary mobilization of our national teams, these programs were able to continue almost without interruption. And they will go on strong.
The first members of our emergency teams arrived last week. They dove into conducting rapid assessments on nutrition, food security, and water and sanitation. We are managing the entire humanitarian assessment process for the western part of the country—in Bangui, Bossangoa, and Kemo. Based on these assessments, we’ll put new programs into place quickly. We won’t rest until we are certain that those affected by this crisis have their basic human needs met, and we hope to give them a positive outlook for a better future.
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