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People caught in CAR crisis still wait for help - Situation in some provinces remains precarious, aid organizations need to shift gears

28.10.13
 MWA_OFFICER

The situation in Ouham province, in northern Central African Republic (CAR), particularly around the towns of Bossangoa and Bouca, where a peak in violence has left tens of thousands of people to flee their homes in search of safety, is still critical. In Bouca, about 700 houses, or  half of the town, has been burned down. Around 500 people are still seeking shelter at the school oft he Catholic Mission in town, while some Muslim families are sheltered on the local Imam’s compound.

While atrocities continue, people are caught in these makeshift camps where living conditions remain precarious. The dearly needed  scale up of humanitarian assistance has yet to happen. In Bossangoa, with the rainy season dragging on, the few teams working on sanitation issues are fighting not to let the outside space around the Catholic Mission, where an estimated 28,000 people have sought refuge, turn into a swamp.

"It is almost two months now, that people have fled their homes for fear of their lives and settled here. Now they are still in this makeshift camp with a population that is equal to a small town. Still there is not enough shelter, nor food, nor water and adequate sanitation available," says Ellen Van Der Velden, MSF Country Coordinator in CAR. "The possibility of related disease outbreaks increases with every day passing and the nutritional situation in the camp is worrying. We do what we can, especially to respond to the medical needs in this area, but aid agencies  finally need to shift to emergency mode."

While the population moves a bit more freely in and out of the makeshift camp in Bossangoa during the day now, the vast majority still returns to the camps at night as they are the only places they feel safe.

"We see more people move out of the makeshift camps to work on their fields or go and sell their produce on the market during the day. They have to, it is their basis for survival. Yet, they are still too afraid to return to their homes permanently, out of fear of new attacks," says van der Velden. "Yet, besides the camp population,  we are extremely concerened for all the people who  we do NOT reach, the majority, actually of those who fled. We believe that there are hundreds of thousands who have not made it to any of the camps but fled to the bush and have to fend for themselves. These people need all the help they can get but currently, they are on their own."

 

Besides MSF’s seven ‘regular’ programmes in Paoua, Carnot, Zemio, Boguila, Batangafo , Kabo and Ndélé, the organisation is running  emergency activities in Bossangoa, Bria and Bouca. In Bossangoa, MSF is providing emergency medical care in the hospital, as well as healthcare and emergency humanitarian support in three of the makeshift camps, including assistance with water and sanitation, and nutritional support. In Bouca, MSF offers emergency medical care, primary health care, obstetrics, mobile clinics and referrals to the hospital in Batangafo. Activities in Bria focus on paediatric activities for children aged from 0 to 15 years.