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People of Central African Republic "abandoned" and in need

Médecins Sans Frontières has said that the majority of the country is without aid, three months after a coup.

In this March 27, 2013 photo, rebel soldiers from the Seleka alliance walk in front of the Ledger Plaza Bangui hotel, in Bangui, Central African Republic.
In this March 27, 2013 photo, rebel soldiers from the Seleka alliance walk in front of the Ledger Plaza Bangui hotel, in Bangui, Central African Republic.
Image: STR/AP/Press Association Images

THE CENTRAL AFRICAN Republic is in the grip of a humanitarian emergency, while the international community looks on with indifference, a humanitarian medical organisation has said.

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders said that this is the case three months after Seleka rebels seized power in Central African Republic (CAR) with a coup.

Lack of security

MSF said that UN agencies and many non-governmental organisations have withdrawn to the capital, citing lack of security, leaving the majority of the country without aid.

According to a report released today by Médecins Sans Frontières, the people of CAR “have effectively been abandoned just when they most need help”.

Jane-Ann McKenna, Head of Médecins Sans Frontières Ireland and previously Médecins Sans Frontières’ Project Coordinator in northern CAR, said that even before the coup the country was in crisis, with mortality rates well above the emergency threshold in several regions.

The health system cannot be said to be functioning, as there is a chronic lack of facilities, skilled medical staff, diagnostic and treatment tools, medicines and supplies. To all intents and purposes it is a phantom system.

During the rebel offensive which began in March, hospitals and health centres were ransacked and medical staff fled.

Malaria cases are 33 per cent higher than the same period last year, said MSF.

Robberies and looting

MSF has been the victim of robberies and looting over recent months, and said that a number of UN agencies and non-governmental organisations have also been affected.

MSF has continued to run nine medical programmes in CAR throughout the recent crisis, while expanding medical services to other areas.

It said that the scale of people’s needs is so great that more help is urgently needed.

Of the total funds requested in March 2013 by UN agencies and non-governmental organisations, so far just 31 percent has been disbursed.

MSF is calling on the international community – including the UN, the European Union and the African Union – to keep CAR at the top of their agendas and to support the country.

It also wants the humanitarian community to maintain its commitment to CAR, in spite of the current political and security situation, and allocate adequate resources to respond to the medical and humanitarian crisis.

MSF is calling on the transitional CAR government to commit to meeting the urgent needs of the population. It also wants it to guarantee security conditions that will allow humanitarian organisations to provide assistance to people.

Médecins Sans Frontières’ report ‘Central African Republic: Abandoned to its fate?’ is out today.

Read: US evacuates embassy in Central African Republic>

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