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EU response to the crisis
The challenges facing the Central African Republic (CAR) are so complex and interlinked that only a comprehensive approach focused on security, humanitarian aid, stabilisation and development cooperation will help make a difference. This is the approach favoured by the European Union (EU).
The EU is the country’s main development partner and the main provider of humanitarian assistance. It has committed more than €360 million of new funding to respond to the crisis in CAR since it started in 2013. Over the years, the EU has also given development assistance to meet the basic needs of the most vulnerable people.
The EU is active in the international efforts to stabilise the country, support the transition process and help put the country on track towards a sustainable recovery. The EU supports the transition authorities in their efforts to find a political solution to the crisis. This political process should be broad-based, inclusive and locally-led to make a difference and to pass the test of time. The EU maintains a regular dialogue with the CAR authorities, in close coordination with its international partners.
EU priorities in the Central African Republic
The EU's comprehensive approach covers a number of priorities:
Security is essential in order to restore a more stable government in CAR.
The EU supported the African-led mission MISCA under the African Peace Facility. The EU's contribution (€ 125 million) covered the cost of allowances, accommodation and feeding the troops deployed in the field. The salaries of civilian MISCA personnel and operational costs such as transport, communication and medical services were also supported by the Facility. This assistance was essential for the functioning of the mission ahead of the transfer of authority to the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in CAR (MINUSCA), which took place on 15 September 2014.
Furthermore, the military operation deployed by the European Union - EUFOR RCA - contributes to the international efforts to provide a secure environment and protect the populations most at risk. Deployed in the Bangui area and for a period of six months, it creates the conditions for the provision of humanitarian aid. EUFOR RCA is securing the 3rd and 5th districts of Bangui, while responsibility for the M'Poko Airport was handed over to MINUSCA.
EUFOR RCA managed to improve the security environment in these districts and is contributing to the preservation of inter-community cohabitation where it still exists. In this way, the EU military operation has helped stop the wave of internal displacement and create the condition for the return of some of the internally displaced people. Overall, EUFOR RCA is helping build a foundation for the future reconciliation process. The cost of the operation is estimated at € 38 million.
Currently, a possible EU Military CSDP mission in the Central African Republic is under consideration, aiming at supporting the CAR military authorities in the preparation of the upcoming Security Sector Reform.
2) Humanitarian emergency
The Central African Republic is in the worst humanitarian crisis since its independence. Almost half of the 4.6 million population are in immediate need of humanitarian assistance. There are 410 000 internally displaced people, including over 63 000 in the capital. The crisis has forced over 186 000 people to flee to Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Republic of Congo in the course of the last year. There are 425 000 Central African refugees in neighbouring countries. In addition to protection from violence, the priority needs are food, healthcare, water, sanitation and hygiene, shelter and basic household items.
The European Union is the largest humanitarian donor to CAR. The European Commission and Member States have substantially scaled up their humanitarian engagement in light of the evolving needs (from €20 million in 2012, to over €128 million in 2014). These funds support protection, access to health care, food and nutrition assistance, drinking-water distribution, sanitation services, logistics and humanitarian coordination. Life-saving assistance is provided to those in need within CAR as well as to refugees in neighbouring countries. In addition, the EU has organised repeated airlifts of life-saving items and aid personnel into CAR to help the victims.
A team of European humanitarian experts is closely monitoring the situation in the field, assessing the needs and overseeing the use of EU funds.
The EU pays special attention to the fight against impunity and the re-establishment of rule of law. It is funding projects aimed at the restart of a basic criminal justice system in Bangui. It also supports the reinstatement of police and gendarmerie capacities for community policing as well as riot control, restoration of the joint operational command centre, reinforcement of the judiciary, and the rehabilitation of prison facilities. A long-term project to extend access to justice beyond Bangui is also under way (for a total amount of €22.1 million).
Often working together with the transitional authorities in CAR, the EU is supporting initiatives to promote inter-community dialogue, deescalate tensions and build confidence between communities. As part of the €12 million stabilisation package adopted in August 2013 through the EU's Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP), the EU supports the restoration of independent media capacities and a network of community radios in the provinces.
A broad social marketing campaign is in preparation, which will help promote non-violence. The deployment of human rights’ observation missions, in close collaboration with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, aims to help prevent further human rights’ violations.
Communities at risk also benefit from EU support to retain their ethnical and religious diversity (with €4 million, also through the IcSP). Operated in the few areas of Bangui where co-habitation continues, this pilot project is helping maintain a basis for the reconciliation process. Given its successful implementation in Bangui's most sensitive areas, the project will be extended to critical zones in the provinces, with an additional budget boost of €10 million.
Finally, the IcSP is funding capacity building of administrative structures and authorities responsible for enforcing the Housing, Land and Property (HLP) rights of the displaced.
Overall IcSP contribution to stabilize CAR amounts to €30.65 million.
4) Preparing for sustainable recovery
Although the EU's development cooperation has slowed down considerably due to the security and institutional situation, it continues. EU engagement for development in the CAR aims to foster economic recovery, create livelihoods and help restore state presence.
The EU is also working on the transition from emergency response towards longer-term development assistance through an approach linking relief, rehabilitation and development.
On 9 July 2014 the EU adopted a support package of €119 million, including a Trust Fund. It will help restore basic social services and livelihoods. It will fund the restart of classes in schools which have been closed due to the conflict); it will also support the rehabilitation and stocking of health centres.
The support package will support priorities such as functioning of the State and support to the election process.
Projects in health (€15 million), public works rehabilitation (€4.5 million) and gender (€1.5 million) financed by the Trust Fund are currently being launched while a project in food security (€10 million) is in preparation.
Between 2008 and 2013, around €225 million were allocated through the different financial instruments (€160 million through the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) and €65 million through the EU budget).
5) Regional impact of the crisis
In order to mitigate the regional impact of the CAR crisis on neighbouring countries, the EU is providing targeted humanitarian assistance for recent arrivals from CAR in border regions in Chad, Cameroun and DRC (€ 10 million). Through an upcoming IcSP-funded project in Chad, it will also facilitate the integration of returnees/refugees in host communities and help prevent potential radicalization (€12 million). A similar initiative is under preparation for Cameroon.