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Central African Republic: Concerns for those needing humanitarian assistance grows as aid offices looted in new wave of violence

By Action Against Hunger - ACF-UK
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Direct threats made against international humanitarian organisations in the Central African Republic (CAR) and the looting of aid agencies' offices, including Action Against Hunger's, have raised concern for families reliant on humanitarian assistance.

CAR is experiencing a new episode of disturbing violence. Families are living in fear of widespread conflict just weeks before elections are scheduled to take place.

Violent clashes took place on Saturday 26 September in Bangui, the capital, after the death of a motorcycle taxi driver who was killed by unidentified men on Friday night. The outbreak of violence spread across the country: attacks and firefights have taken place daily since and barricades have been erected on various roads. People have been attacked and lynched in the streets. Tensions in the west of CAR are high and population movements have been observed, particularly in areas of Bangui.

The offices of several humanitarian organisations have also been looted, including Action Against Hunger's. Alexandre Le Cuziat, regional director of operations for Action Against Hunger in Africa, said: "We have been the target of looting in Bangui. Our offices have been completely ransacked and destroyed, our stocks stolen. We are concerned about the wellbeing of all affected by this new violence, particularly the most vulnerable of those who benefit from our programmes, namely children and displaced families."

The threats against humanitarian organisations are a real danger to the 2.7 million people in CAR who need assistance.

In 2014, Action Against Hunger staff in CAR provided assistance to 367,114 people. Our rapid mobile response programmes reached 117,712 people in remote areas, where thousands have sought refuge from violence. More than 10,000 children under 5 years old have been treated against malnutrition. In Bangui alone, more than 800 children have been admitted and treated each month since the beginning of summer 2015. Stopping humanitarian activities would be a tragedy for civilians.

The insecurity which weighs on humanitarian workers is a real obstacle to the delivery of aid," said Le Cuziat. “We can no longer guarantee continuity of support to health facilities because of supply shortages of medicine and therapeutic nutritional food, and because of the insecurity.”

Action Against Hunger operates on the principles of impartiality, neutrality and non-discrimination, intervening daily in areas and with people that are identified as vulnerable and in need of humanitarian support. We have been present in CAR for the past nine years. Since the 2013 crisis, our programmes have adapted to new needs within the country and the needs of CAR refugees in Chad and Cameroon.