12 December 2013

Central African Republic: UN Must Urgently and Radically Change Its Humanitarian Response

press release

Brussels — As UN humanitarian organisations agree to further mobilise resources in response to the humanitarian crisis in Central African Republic (CAR), MSF has released an open letter addressed to Valérie Amos, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, expressing that this decision has to be urgently translated in reality.

It urges that until now, UN organisations have failed to deliver an adequate response to the gravity and the scale of humanitarian needs on the ground. The Inter-Agency Standing Committee, a decision making forum involving the main UN humanitarian organisations, has decided to strengthen its humanitarian response in CAR, meaning it will deploy more resources to respond to the crisis.

This is welcome, but it comes too late. As the humanitarian situation has deteriorated massively in the country over the last months, far more should have been done by now. "This late decision must have a real impact and initiate radical and immediate change to the way UN humanitarian agencies respond to the crisis," said Bart Janssens, MSF Director of Operations.

UN activities have been insufficient, and those that do exist have often been interrupted, as agencies have pulled their teams out from areas of need, sometimes for long periods.

Today, approximately 30,000 people are living at Bangui airport. Despite repeated requests from MSF to UN agencies to provide food, tents and hygiene equipment. Yet no concrete response has come.

Despite repeated requests, UN agencies have also not intervened yet in Yaloké and Bouca, where the situation is critical.

During recent fighting in Bossangoa, while MSF took care of tens of wounded and continued to dig latrines and provide access to drinking water for displaced people, UN agencies stopped distributing food during the four days. Essential activities needed for the 30,000 people seeking refuge in the Catholic Mission.

"Despite the best efforts of MSF and the few NGOs operating in the field, the needs remain extremely high. UN agencies must now provide an effective response to meet them," continued Janssens.

For months MSF has been highlighting the dire humanitarian situation in CAR. MSF has been able to demonstrate that it is possible to work and has even expanded its humanitarian activities in the country despite the difficult security conditions.

MSF has been present in CAR since 1997. MSF is currently managing seven regular projects (in Batangafo, Boguila, Carnot, Kabo, Ndéle, Paoua and Zémio) and four emergency projects (in Bangui, Bossangoa, Bouca and Bria). In addition, a mobile emergency team is covering the areas of Bouar, Yaloké and the displaced camps of Bangui. By the end of the year, MSF hopes to start activities in the hospitals of Bangassou and Ouango. In total, it provides free medical care to nearly 400,000 people; through its work in 7 hospitals, two medical centres and 40 health posts; and has more than 100 expatriate personnel and about 1,100 local staff in its teams.

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