Brussels — The European Commission is sending urgently needed medical assistance to the Central African Republic (CAR). A plane carrying 37 tonnes of relief supplies will leave Brussels for the CAR capital Bangui this weekend. This new airlift operation comes on top of a humanitarian air bridge operated by the EU between Bangui and Douala (Cameroon).
"A humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding before our eyes in the Central African Republic. The entire population is affected - and the number of people displaced in Bangui alone has increased by 130,000 in the space of only a few days. We must get assistance to them now," said Kristalina Georgieva, the EU Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response.
"The international community, led by France, is mobilizing to address the spiral of violence that lies at the root of the humanitarian drama. On the humanitarian side, we have two immediate priorities: to mobilize as much assistance as we can - and to get it through to people who need it. With this operation, the European Commission is helping to ensure that this urgently needed lifesaving assistance, including medicines, reaches the most vulnerable people caught up in the conflict."
Three humanitarian non--governmental organisations - Médecins du Monde (MDM) and the Dutch and French sections of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) - are involved in the airlift. The emergency aid being flown in is principally medical supplies.
The aid airlift from Europe comes a few days after the Commission established a humanitarian air bridge, opening up a vital line of support between Douala, Cameroon, and the CAR capital Bangui, to ferry humanitarian aid and personnel to the strife-torn country. A CRJ 2000 jet aircraft with a capacity of 50 passengers or five tons of cargo is performing daily rotations between Bangui and Douala, ferrying humanitarian goods and personnel.
The situation in the Central African Republic is rapidly deteriorating. Over 530 000 people are internally displaced (IDPs) in the country, 10% of the whole population have fled their homes and 2.3 million are in need of immediate assistance.
The European Commission has been supporting life-saving activities in CAR since 2001 with €20.5 million in aid since the beginning of 2013. For the last five years, the European Commission has been one of the country's main donors.
The EC provides support in several sectors including protection, access to health care, food and nutrition, drinking-water distribution, sanitation services, logistics and humanitarian coordination as well as catering for the needs of those directly affected by fighting.
Due to the current crisis the EU is doubling the size of its team of humanitarian experts based in Bangui, who work with humanitarian aid agencies to help channel assistance to the most vulnerable people.