15 September 2017
Bangui, 15 September 2017 - The International Non-Governmental Organisations’s Coordination Committee in CAR – including Jesuit Refugee Service West Africa – vehemently condemns the targeted attack on humanitarian aid workers that took place in Batangafo on 7 September 2017. The attack was extremely violent: assailants used rocket launchers and automatic rifles within the confines of a humanitarian base and threatened the lives of humanitarian aid workers. Consequentially, all aid work is suspended indefinitely and almost all INGO aid workers in the area have been evacuated.
During this latest attack, the equipment of working INGOs in the area was looted, and displaced persons seeking refuge were forcibly dispersed once again. To save their own lives, humanitarian aid workers evacuated their base, leaving behind their beneficiaries. These attacks have occurred repeatedly since 28 July 2017. They have halted protection activities, cut off drinking water supply and food distribution, and limited access to emergency shelters and other non-food items – all of which are essential to the survival of some 28,000 people.
The removal of these services and evacuation of aid workers underlines the shrinking presence of the humanitarian aid sector throughout the country (Kaga-Bandoro, Bangassou, Zemio, and Bria), and prevents affected populations from accessing basic resources.
“We are acutely aware that our presence is vital for these very vulnerable people, but we are forced to take such measures in order to protect our staff,” stated the mission leaders of the associated INGOs. “The safety of humanitarian aid workers is fundamental in being able to help the populations most in need. We call on all parties involved to re-establish peace and order, and to respect the civilian nature of sites housing displaced persons and the impartiality of humanitarian workers in helping those impacted.”
The INGO Coordination Committee signatories (including JRS West Africa):
- Remind all parties of their obligation to protect civilian populations and their means of subsistence;
- Call on all armed groups to agree to dialogue in order to reduce violence, end impunity, and find a peaceful solution to the current crisis;
- Appeal to all involved parties to guarantee safe access to emergency health and basic social services for civilian populations and humanitarian aid workers;
- Remind every one of their obligation to respect the civilian nature of humanitarian aid infrastructures, such as hospitals, as determined by the International Human Rights Charter.
Additional press information:
The humanitarian crisis in the CAR is complex and multifaceted. The nature of the conflicts involved renders the situation extremely volatile and unpredictable. Since the beginning of this year, the number of displaced persons in the country as risen from 402,000 to over 600,000 – this is a 40 percent increase in over six months. Violence has spread to areas of CAR previously considered peaceful, and in other regions the situation remains similarly fragile. Currently, one out of every four CAR citizens lives in a context of displacement, either within the country as an IDP or in neighbouring countries as a refugee.
The INGO Coordination Committee in CAR represents 52 NGOs which provide more than 90% of humanitarian aid in the country.