24 January 2014

Central African Republic: World Bank Mobilizes U.S $100 Million for CAR

The World Bank Group says it's providing $100-million in emergency development funds for Central African Republic. It describes the fighting and humanitarian crisis in CAR as a "profound tragedy" that requires "urgent international support."

Muslim and Christian armed groups have been fighting since December and are blamed for many civilian killings and looting.

Makhtar Diop, the World Bank Group's Vice President for Africa, said, "I think for us it's very important to support one of these failed states, as you call it, fragile states, which are states in a difficult situation for a long time."

Civilians are bearing the brunt of the crisis.

"With the recent acceleration of the crisis, I think we are close to one million internally displaced people in Central African Republic. The humanitarian situation is very, very bad. So for us it was very important to react very quickly and try to see how we can help the population in this country to face this cycle of violence and this crisis."

Not taking action now, he said, would mean it could be very difficult to "restart" the country.

The World Bank Group plans to disburse some of the money quickly. Diop said, "We will try to ensure that some of the functions that are essential now can resume."

Some of the immediate programs will include Cash for Work or Food for Work programs so people can have some money in their pockets and food for the families. Diop said this is being done "so that we can help the economy function a little bit again."

The emergency funds will also be used to help pay civil servant salaries, including those who work in education and healthcare.

"Doing that we will be working very closely with various institutions and some of these resources will be channeled through the World Food Program, WFP, to help on the food provision side. And we'll be also working with FAO to help provide some seeds because if you don't have the seeds provided to the farmers now - before March or April - we are kind of affecting the next crop and therefore can face [an] even worse economic crisis and humanitarian crisis in the next year."

Diop said the $100-million dollars will be disbursed throughout the year as grants. In a statement, he said, "We plan to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of CAR in their time of need and beyond."

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