The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer, today completed his five-day visit to the Central African Republic. Mr. Maurer met with the President of the Central African Republic and government officials and spoke with community leaders. He also visited Kaga-Bandoro, where access to medical care remains a great challenge.
As clashes between a new coalition of armed groups and government forces continue in various parts of the country, the Central African Republic is experiencing a catastrophic humanitarian crisis.
The situation has continued to deteriorate in recent months. Gun violence has forced more than 180,000 people to flee their homes in search of some semblance of safety. Even before the current crisis, one in four citizens of the country was displaced or sheltered in one of the neighboring countries.
Hundreds of thousands have neither basic food nor medical care. Three days after the fighting in Grimari ended, for example, ICRC staff came across a ghost town, where the lack of security made it difficult to get around. People traumatized by the violence desperately waited for humanitarian aid that simply did not arrive. They urgently need help, as well as food and other essential supplies for their survival.
The main roads between the Central African Republic and Cameroon have been closed for almost two months. As a result, food prices have skyrocketed in markets in the capital, Bangui, and elsewhere. We are concerned that malnutrition will worsen further, because many families can no longer afford enough food or because what they can buy is not nutritious enough.
Kaga-Bandoro is a city in the northeast of the country. In 2020, we supported nearly 720 victims / survivors of sexual violence there and conducted 1,400 psychological consultations. These figures point to a terrifying level of violence, but they still do not reflect the magnitude of the need. Instability and widespread crime are severely limiting the scope of humanitarian work and the delivery of aid. The proliferation of armed groups makes it difficult to establish any type of structured dialogue and to obtain reliable guarantees of security for human action.
Attacks on civilian facilities and humanitarian workers are unacceptable and must end. In addition, more than 18% of health facilities are out of service because they have been destroyed or looted, or because they do not have medicines, equipment or personnel. There is a legal obligation to respect health-related activities and aid operations at all times and under all circumstances. Medical personnel, facilities and vehicles are protected by international humanitarian law, which also requires all parties to refrain from interfering in humanitarian activity and to facilitate access to medical care for anyone in need.
The ICRC reminds all those involved in the violence that they must act in accordance with international humanitarian law and must ensure that civilians, combatants who are hors de combat, and private and collective property are respected and do not suffer harm or damage. .
Since the violence began in 2013, ICRC teams have worked hard to heal the wounds, visible and invisible. Last year, across the country, we treated more than 103,000 patients and transported 79 injured to health centers. The lack of medical care is especially affecting women and children. Maternal and infant mortality levels in the Central African Republic are among the highest in the world.
People are being crushed by violence, with no end in sight. With no hope of individual or economic development and no hope of security, the relentless trauma that plagues the people of the Central African Republic will destroy the future of an entire nation.