In the Central African Republic, 20 percent of the population has fled homes since a rebel takeover in March ousted the president and led to gangs violently taking over the country. An estimated 930,000 people have been displaced. Many are seeking help and protection at churches and schools.
In the Central African Republic, chaos and fear have forced thousands of people from their homes since a rebel takeover in March ousted the president. Even as the interim president and prime minister resigned last week under regional pressure, leading to a tentative truce, the situation remains fragile, with outbreaks of fighting between the army and the rebel alliance Seleka, which accused the former president of breaching a peace agreement. Armed gangs, mainly former Seleka rebels, now control most of the landlocked country. Fighting has taken on unfortunate religious dimensions, dividing Christians and Muslims who had previously lived together in peace. Church partners fear attacks.
An estimated 20 percent of the country’s population is displaced. Millions need food, shelter and assistance. The number of deaths is rising. The new president was sworn into office in mid-August, but many embassies, including the U.S. Embassy, remain closed. Thousands are descending on Catholic churches and schools, pleading for protection and help.
Increased insecurity in Bangui on December 25, 2013, and the days that followed, triggered a new wave of displacement and has reduced any likelihood of a quick return home. With the colder season at hand, blankets and other essentials are in demand. The resources of our local Catholic partners are stretched thin.
Catholic Relief Services has committed to providing relief to 50,000 people and resident populations in Bangui, Bouar, Bozoum, Bossangoa and Lobaye.
Impact to Date
Catholic Relief Services and our partner Caritas Mbaiki are working in Lobaye to provide emergency food supplies to more than 1,800 families in eight cities through a voucher-based program. Seeds and tools have also been distributed to help families who lost a growing season. We have distributed 29,250 food rations in Bangui and have identified more distribution sites for the coming days.
Priorities Moving Forward
Shelter supplies: Providing sleeping mats and possibly tarps.
Food: Food assistance to displaced families and communities in Bangui.
Emergency living supplies: Mosquito nets, blankets, cooking utensils and hygiene kits.
Conflict resolution and peacebuilding: Supporting the work of Christian and Muslim religious leaders to promote dialogue and conflict resolution. This will involve activities for children, including puppets and workshops that will help children talk about the conflict and their trauma.
Strengthened operational capacity of Caritas: Caritas Bossangoa and other local Caritas partners have assumed a massive undertaking and urgently need administrative, personnel and material support. We will provide essential personnel support to boost their staffing, as well as key office supplies, fuel, vehicles and generators where needed.