United Nations officials in the Central African Republic (CAR) highlighted today the lack of sufficient funding for humanitarian operations and the constant instability as the main challenges in pulling the country out of its current crisis, and urged the international community for support.
Comparing the country to "a boat in the middle of a storm" where everyone on-board needs to exercise their responsibilities, General Babacar Gaye, head of the UN peacebuilding mission in CAR (BINUCA), asked that the population, political stakeholders and religious leaders react and speak out about the dire situation their nation is facing.
"I have recommended that armed groups present their 'cahier des charges', their grievances, so that the Government can be in a position to immediately kick start a national political dialogue," Mr. Gaye said at a press conference in Bangui earlier today. "We will not sort out this crisis and we will not stop the violence if there is no political solution," he insisted.
Since the conflict started in December 2012 following attacks from mainly Muslim Séléka rebels, thousands of people are believed to have been killed, and 2.2 million - about half the population of CAR - need humanitarian aid.
With more than 650,000 people still internally displaced, and over 290,000 having fled to neighbouring countries, the conflict has taken on increasingly sectarian overtones as mainly Christian militias known as anti-Balaka (anti-machete) have taken up arms.
Mr. Gaye deplored the recent attacks by armed groups against the African Union-led peacekeepers (MISCA) and the French peacekeeping operation known as Sangaris, emphasizing that those international forces "are mandated by the [Security] Council, to protect the population, to restore State authority, to create an atmosphere conducive to the delivery of international humanitarian support."
Drawing attention to the lack of sufficient funding, UN humanitarian coordinator Abdou Dieng, noted that only 21 per cent of the nearly half a billion dollars pledged by donors at the CAR High-Level Meeting held in Brussels this past January has been delivered.
"This is one of our biggest challenges, because without money, it will be very difficult to address the need of the population," stressed Mr. Dieng.
In order to facilitate and accelerate the disbursement of the pledged funds, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General in CAR, Georg Charpentier, explained that a multipurpose trust fund (MPTF) has been set up over the past few weeks.
"We have already started a number of activities related to the immediate impact projects that have been identified within the framework of the Secretary-General's six point agenda. So we are ready," said Mr. Charpentier.
Emphasizing that "under the current conditions of volatility and violence, it is not easy - if not impossible - to carry out rehabilitation initiatives, create job opportunities and re-launch local economies," Mr. Charpentier said that the main focus remains the "stabilization of the security situation."