Lisa Schlein - VOA News
A United Nations peacekeeper stands among houses destroyed by violence in the abandoned village of Yade, Central African Republic, April 27, 2017.
GENEVA - The United Nations reports Central African Republic’s five-year-old civil war is intensifying and has now spread to practically all parts of the country, even to those areas in northern and central CAR that have been relatively stable.
The U.N. says once safe areas, such as the capital Bangui and the country’s second city and commercial hub, Bambari, have become war zones.
Aid agencies note the country’s critical situation has dramatically worsened during the past year. They say an upsurge in violence has driven up the number of internally displaced people by 70 percent, to nearly 690,000 in less than a year. Refugee numbers also have gone up 25 percent to more than 575,000.
U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator in the CAR Najat Rochdi says an upsurge of violence in April and May has sent many returning refugees fleeing to neighboring Cameroon and Chad. She says one in four people in the country is now displaced.
“Meaning that a quarter of the population in Central Africa are not in a position, actually to have a normal life, are not in a position to send their kids to school and are not in a position to have access to their land, are not in a position even to participate in the rebuilding and reconstruction and the recovery of their own country.”
Rochdi says more than half of the population, around 2.5 million people, needs humanitarian assistance. Unfortunately, she says the United Nations is only able to provide them with a fraction of what they need because of a shortage of funds.
She says the year is almost half over and the United Nations has received only 15 percent of its $515 million appeal for 2018. She says the meager response is forcing U.N. agencies to drastically cut aid programs. For example, she says the World Food Program has been forced to cut food rations by two-thirds.
The U.N. official is appealing to international donors to be more generous. She says humanitarian assistance in the CAR’s hot spots makes the difference between life and death.