13 February 2006

Central African Republic: Humanitarian Crisis Continues, Funding Remains Low

NEW YORK, 10 February (OCHA) -- Despite enormous funding shortfalls for the Central African Republic, polio was finally declared eradicated in 2005, while a measles vaccination campaign was completed earlier this month.  The humanitarian crisis in this landlocked nation persists, even though funding improved slightly in 2005.  The first appeal for the Central African Republic was launched in 2003 after the latest round of warfare that devastated the already impoverished country.  This has been followed by annual appeals since then.

From a mere $3.5 million in 2004, the country received over $9 million in 2005.  "This has been possible due improved security and stability in the country, with a democratically elected Government to act as an interlocutor for donors", said Maurizio Giuliano, Spokesperson for the Humanitarian Coordinator for the Central African Republic.  But despite some seemingly positive steps forward, the overall picture remains extremely dire.  Funding of the 2005 Appeal still totalled 33 per cent of the funds requested, making it the second worst funded appeal in the world.  In relative terms, things were actually worse in 2005, as the appeal garnered 38 per cent of funds required in 2004, and only 33 per cent in 2005, with the largest donors being UN agencies themselves.

Social indicators in the country are among the worst in the world, with average life expectancy having fallen from 45 to only 38 years over the last 15 years.  The preliminary outcome of a recent nutrition survey also shows worrying results, with increasing rates of malnutrition especially among infants and children.  There is a slow but clear decline in food availability and access to health care, while HIV/AIDS infection rates have risen to 35 per cent in some areas.

"With improved stability and a democratically elected Government as a counterpart, and with a strengthened UN presence to support them, we think that it is now easier for donors to assess priorities, choose which projects to fund, and monitor them with our support", said Aurélien Buffler of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).  "We are here to help them through this process."

In 2004, Denmark, Germany, Italy, and the United States donated to the Appeal, while five donor nations contributed in 2005 -- Norway, Sweden, Finland, United States, Ireland -- along with the World Bank and some private donors.  The new Appeal for 2006 has now been launched, requesting total funding in excess of $46 million, mainly for food, health, and education.

For further information, please contact:  Maurizio Giuliano, Public Information Officer, Office of the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Central African Republic, e-mail: ; tel: +236-031825; Stephanie Bunker, Spokesperson, OCHA-New York, e-mail: ; tel: +1-212-9175126; Elizabeth Byrs, Spokesperson, OCHA-Geneva, e-mail: ; tel: +41-22-9172653

* *** *