Due to the combined effects of armed conflict, COVID-19 and structural fragility, an estimated 2.8 million Central Africans (i.e. half of the country’s population) currently require some form of humanitarian assistance and of those 3/4 are either malnourished or demand urgent medical care. This means that the survival of 1.9 million Central Africans is at risk(1). Furthermore, only one out of 10 Central Africans have access to hygiene facilities, and only 1/3 of the population currently drinks clean and disinfected water. And even those Central Africans who are lucky enough to have basic food supply and access to sanitation find it difficult to provide education for their children and struggle to find a decent housing(2).

Humanitarian Crisis Central Africa
Source: International Committee of Red Cross (2020)

It is, therefore, hardly a surprise that the World Health Organization (2020) classifies Central African Republic as one of the least prepared countries for the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only is the country’s health sector understaffed, understocked and relying largely on foreign humanitarian assistance, but the country’s poor road networks also mean that the distribution of medical items by humanitarians is very challenging(3)

Added to this, the Central African Republic is also one of the most dangerous places for humanitarians to work in. According to The New Humanitarian (2020), there is more than one incident of violence against humanitarian workers reported in the country every day. Between January and November 2020, 365 violent incidents have been reported by OCHA; two humanitarian workers have been killed and 24 injured in the country(4).

 

Humanitarian Crisis Central Africa
Source: UNOCHA (2020)

All of these factors are impeding humanitarian work and they have contributed to severe shortages of COVID-19 supplies in Central African Republic. At present, medical workers only have 50% of the required amount of surgical masks, they only have less than 40% of the needed respiratory masks and ventilators in stock. Furthermore, the CAR health care system lacks almost all medical gloves, face shields and protective goggles. 

Source: UNOCHA (2020)

It is, therefore, beyond necessary that the Central African government joins forces with humanitarian agencies to provide safer working conditions for humanitarian workers. And there is also an urgent need for more financial donations. Just to prevent malnutrition and starvation of children in the country, UNICEF estimates that $33Million is required(5).

 


1 UNOCHA, 2020. Central African Republic: Situation Report. [online] Reliefweb.int. Available at: <https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/Situation%20Report%20-%20Central%20African%20Republic%20- %208%20Dec%202020.pdf> 

2 UNICEF, 2020. UNICEF Central African Republic Humanitarian Situation. [online] Reliefweb.int. Available at: <https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/UNICEF%20Central%20African%20Republic%20Humanitarian%20 Situation%20Report%20Sept-Oct%202020.pdf>

3 World Health Organization. 2020. Central African Republic. [online] Available at: <https://www.who.int/health-cluster/countries/central-african-republic/en/> [Accessed 17 December 2020].

4 Surprenant, A., 2020. Central African Republic Election: Old Faces, Familiar Fears. [online] The New Humanitarian. Available at: <https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/analysis/2020/12/1/central-african-republic-elections-boziz%C3%A9-touad%C3%A9 ra-peace-deal>

5 UNICEF, 2020. UNICEF Central African Republic Humanitarian Situation. [online] Reliefweb.int. Available at: <https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/UNICEF%20Central%20African%20Republic%20Humanitarian%20 Situation%20Report%20Sept-Oct%202020.pdf>