This week, France has promised to deploy a further 400 troops in the CAR. The decision comes after the United Nation’s chief, Ban Ki-moon, asked for more international assistance to stop the violence. The French Defence Minister admitted that the situation in CAR had been worse than originally anticipated and that extra troops were needed to avert any deeper escalation of the situation.
Nearly a million people or a quarter of the CAR’s population have been displaced by fighting and at least 2,000 people have been killed since December. France had planned to hand over security duties to the African Union peacekeeping force, which currently has more than 5,300 troops in the country, including soldiers from Rwanda, Burundi, Chad and Cameroon. But due to the extent of the continued violence, French participation in its former colony is seen as vital to restoring peace.
Greater security needed for delivering supplies
Humanitarian agencies operating in the country will welcome France’s decision. Aid workers in the CAR have been struggling to deliver medical and food assistance due to the lack of security. Speaking to the Guardian, a teacher in the capital Bangui reported that with the number of shops which have been looted or destroyed, families are finding it difficult to source everyday staples such as flour, sugar and cooking gas. When supplies can be found, the cost is often prohibitive, since food prices have escalated over recent weeks. For example, the price of the main staple, cassava, has gone up by 20% since November.
In a recent statement, two of the largest humanitarian agencies have warned that the threat of more severe food shortages could have dire consequences for a country where 1.3 million people are already in need.
One of the main priorities of French and African troops has recently been to reopen supply routes to the capital, especially from neighbouring Cameroon. This has allowed truck deliveries, which were formerly stuck at the border, to arrive under military escort. The World Food Programme can now deliver more than 600 tonnes of supplies which had been held up. The UN also plans to launch one its largest emergency food airlifts to Bangui in the coming weeks.
Our Children's Village has so far remained safe from the ongoing violence, and we are doing all we can to help those affected. We have been protecting the CAR's most vulnerable children since the early 1980s. Today, we provide care in two key locations: the capital Bangui, and the western town of Bouar. Find out more about our long-term work in the CAR...