Central African Republic

Situation Report

Highlights

  • Two years after CAR confirmed the first COVID-19 case, 824,496 people, 14.8 per cent of the population, have been fully vaccinated.
  • 30 civilians were killed and 49 injured in 63 accidents involving landmines and other explosive devices between January 2021 and March 2022.
  • The humanitarian community in CAR plans to provide multi-sectoral assistance to 2 million people in 2022. US$461.3 million will be required.
  • 3.1 million Central Africans need humanitarian assistance and protection in 2022, 63 per cent of the population.
  • Humanitarian actors in the first quarter of 2022, assisted 447,000 people, 22,3 per cent of the target.
Siblings displaced by recent clashes near Bria. ©OCHA/Virginie Bero, Bria, Haute-Kotto Prefecture, CAR, 2021.
Siblings displaced by recent clashes near Bria. ©OCHA/Virginie Bero, Bria, Haute-Kotto Prefecture, CAR, 2021.

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Central African Republic

Situation Report

Key Figures

4.9M
Population
3.1M
People in need of humanitarian assistance
2M
People targeted for assistance
1.8M
People assisted in 2021
2.4M
Food-insecure people
658K
Internally displaced people (30 Ap 2022)
738K
Central African refugees
14373
COVID-19 cases
113
COVID-19-related deaths

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Central African Republic

Situation Report

Funding

$461.3M
Required
$167.7M
Received
36%
Progress
FTS

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Contacts

Vedaste KALIMA

Head of Office

Maxime NAMA CIRHIBUKA

Head of Public Information

Anita CADONAU

Reporting Officer

Central African Republic

Situation Report
Trends
A truck carrying goods from a UN agency hit an explosive device in Ngoutere, killing two people. © Anour Gourna, Ngoutere, Ouham-Pendé Prefecture, CAR, 2022.
A truck carrying goods from a UN agency hit an explosive device in Ngoutere, killing two people. © Anour Gourna, Ngoutere, Ouham-Pendé Prefecture, CAR, 2022.

The ever-growing threat of explosive devices

Accidents involving landmines and other explosive ordnance have taken on increasing proportions since April 2021, particularly in the west of the Central African Republic (CAR), a region where conflict has intensified.

An alarming rise

Between January and March 2022, seven people, all civilians, were killed and 29 injured, including 19 civilians, in 19 accidents involving explosive devices. In 2021, 44 such accidents were recorded, killing 30 people, including 23 civilians, and injuring 48, including 30 civilians. The number of accidents recorded in the first quarter of 2022 amount to nearly half of all accidents recorded in 2021, and both years show a significant increase compared to the year 2020, when two incidents with no casualties were registered.

Civilians are the main victims of explosive devices in CAR. In total, 81 per cent of those killed and 64 per cent of those injured since 2021 were civilians. The most affected regions are the north-west and the west of the country, where 82 per cent of all incidents and accidents took place, although an increasing number of accidents have also been registered in the country’s centre in 2022.

On 4 April, anti-personnel mines were discovered for the first time in CAR. The population found them and reported them to the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) and the peacekeeping mission MINUSCA, which destroyed the devices before they could harm someone. Anti-personnel landmines are prohibited under the Mine Ban Convention, which entered into force for CAR in 2003.

In mid-March, a truck contracted by a United Nations agency to transport construction materials from Bocaranga to Bozoum to build a secondary school hit an anti-tank mine near Ngoutéré, 40 km from Bocaranga. Two people were killed, two injured and the truck was severely damaged. The same truck had hit another mine in the same area in December, injuring one person. The school construction project has since been halted because construction material cannot be delivered, risking the school drop out of 600 pupils. In the same region of Ngoutéré, humanitarian partners cannot reach 1,800 vulnerable people with food assistance and cannot support four health facilities and 12 schools due to the lack of access.

Without distinction

The victims are diverse: a family, children, farmers, a humanitarian worker, merchants, armed elements, UN peacekeepers and a priest. Explosive devices that detonate by the presence, proximity or contact of a person cannot distinguish between civilians and combatants, raising important concerns about the principles of distinction and proportionality under international humanitarian law.

In July 2020, the suspected use of anti-vehicle mines was first reported in the country since the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSCA was established in 2014. One of the suspected devices damaged a MINUSCA tank near the border with Cameroon. After a relative calm between July 2020 and April 2021, the problem has taken on dangerous dimensions with serious consequences for civilians and humanitarian access.

Restricting humanitarian access and socioeconomic activities

The suspected presence of explosive devices severely limits humanitarian access to vulnerable people in a context already marked by access restrictions due to armed conflict and physical access constraints.

At least 30,000 vulnerable people are cut off from humanitarian assistance in western CAR due to the threat of landmines and other explosive devices. Humanitarian partners in Paoua, Bouar and Bocaranga are forced to restrict their movements due to the increasing threat of these devices. In December 2021, humanitarian organisations temporarily suspended their movements throughout the north-west (north of Bocaranga and west of Paoua), as well as west of Berbérati. The absence of humanitarian aid increases people’s vulnerability and exposes them to malaria and waterborne diseases. For example, most of the water points on the Niem-Yelewa-Sabéwa axis are out of order due to lack of maintenance. According to the Humanitarian Needs Overview 2022, the regions affected by explosive devices are also among those with the most severe humanitarian needs. Several axes in the Nana-Mambéré, Mambéré-Kadéï and Ouham-Pendé Prefectures have been considered high-risk due to the suspected presence of explosive devices and remain impassable for humanitarian workers and civilians, notably between Gamboula and Amadagaza. The same applies to the Yelewa-Sabéwa axis, which has remained inaccessible since January 2021. Towns and villages in the areas where explosive devices are suspected risk to be cut off from food and other supplies, trade, security patrols and humanitarian assistance. Explosive ordnance also limits people’s access to fields during this time of planting, places of work and income and essential services such as health care and education.

Emergency assistance by air

Circumventing access restrictions, between June and October 2021, OCHA and humanitarian partners delivered relief supplies by helicopter to Nguia-Bouar, Ngaoundaye, Ndim and Gbambia in Nana-Mambéré, Mambéré-Kadei and Ouham-Pendé. More than 4.5 tons of medicine, nutritional supplements, hygiene products, education kits and food reached about 56,000 vulnerable people, including more than 4,000 internally displaced people, to satisfy the most urgent needs and replenish local health centers.

Following clearance operations of explosive devices by MINUSCA, an OCHA and UNHCR convoy delivered more than 80 tonnes of food and 555 kits with essential household items to more than 1,500 host families and displaced people near Bocaranga, Ndim and Koui in early February 2022.

Protecting civilians and humanitarian workers

In September 2021, UNMAS launched an awareness campaign on the threat of explosive ordnance for the population in Bouar, Berbérati, Paoua and Boali. By the end of 2021, more than 7,085 people had been reached, including 4,310 children. Awareness-raising signs have been put up in strategic locations in Baoro and Bouar. Drawings and photos highlight precautions to be taken not only to avoid the devices but also to mark and report them to the organisations responsible for their destruction. UNMAS has also organised explosive ordnance awareness sessions for more than 1,500 humanitarian actors and UN staff. A training-of-trainers session was also given to different organisations to enable them to raise awareness among their staff in Bangui and in field locations.

Additional funds are now urgently needed to increase the extent of risk education projects for children, women and men in the affected areas.

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Central African Republic

Situation Report
Visual

Hmanitarian Dashboard January - March 2022

Hmanitarian Dashboard January - March 2022

The humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR) has deteriorated, pushing entire segments of the country´s population into extremely precarious conditions. According to the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan, 3.1 million people, or 63 per cent of the population need humanitarian assistance and protection, a level not seen in five years. 45 per cent of the population are severely food insecure, the third highest percentage in the world after Yemen and South Sudan. As of 31 March, 650,000 people are internally displaced. As the Central African Republic struggles to cope with the profound consequences of years of violence, the first warning signs of the increase in the price of food and basic necessities are becoming visible and will weigh heavily on the survival capacities of the most vulnerable populations. More details here

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Central African Republic

Situation Report
Visual

Overview of incidents affecting humanitarian workers Jan - Apr 2022

Overview of incidents affecting humanitarian workers Jan - Apr 2022

The civilian population continues to bear the brunt of tensions and armed violence in Central African Republic.

In the first four months of 2022, 52 incidents affecting humanitarian workers were recorded. The significant drop in incidents observed since the end of 2021, largely due to armed confrontations that were more limited in time and scope, is also confirmed for the month of April (14 incidents).

In April, on the Alindao-Mingala and Alindao-Bambari axes, two violent attacks took place against humanitarian teams, on which armed elements opened fire, resulting in seven injuries, including gunshot wounds.

The préfectures of Ouham (19.2%), Bangui (13.5%) and Ouaka (13.5%) %) remain the most affected during the first four months of 2022. Theft, robbery, looting, threats and assaults represent 73% of incidents (38). Interference and restrictions account for the remaining 14 incidents (27%)

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Central African Republic

Situation Report
Feature
  A young displaced man is being vaccinated against COVID-19 at a site for internally displaced people in Ippy. ©OCHA/Anita Cadonau, Ippy, Ouaka Prefecture, CAR, 2022.
A young displaced man is being vaccinated against COVID-19 at a site for internally displaced people in Ippy. ©OCHA/Anita Cadonau, Ippy, Ouaka Prefecture, CAR, 2022.

Two years after the Central African Republic confirmed the first COVID-19 case

Two years have passed since the government of the Central African Republic (CAR) confirmed on 14 March 2020 the first COVID-19 case in the country. Since then, various humanitarian and development partners have been supporting the government in responding to the pandemic, in addition to responding to a humanitarian crisis that has been lasting for more than a decade.

As of 19 May 2022, 1,210,504 people, have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Of those, 824,496 people have been fully vaccinated CAR has received 2,568,280 vaccine doses from the COVAX facility and bilateral donations from China and Russia, of which 37 per cent have been administrated.

The Ministry of Health has revised its national vaccine rollout plan to scale up COVID-19 vaccination with the aim to cover 52 per cent of the total population by December 2022. The plan will include new targets, including people aged 15 and older. The plan will benefit from financial support from the World Bank, UNICEF, GAVI and WHO.

The CAR government launched on 20 May 2021 the COVID-19 vaccination campaign with the support of partners, notably WHO, UNICEF and GAVI. The campaign began with the symbolic vaccination of members of the government and health workers. Frontline health personnel, vulnerable people aged 50 and above, religious leaders, traders, community liaison volunteers, transporters and journalists were targeted first by the campaign. The COVID-19 vaccination campaign covers all 16 prefectures of the country, but is experiencing access difficulties due to insecurity and poor road conditions.

Response to the second and third wave

On the vigil of the campaign launch, President Touadéra on 19 May announced that a public health emergency will be declared and a number of measures taken to intensify efforts to contain the second COVID-19 wave, that hit the country in March and April 2021. Stricter barrier measures at gathering places such as restaurants, bars, places of worship, weddings and funerals, and public transport were announced, as well as their more rigorous reinforcement.

In January 2022, CAR was in the middle of the third COVID-19 wave. In the first week of January, 745 new cases were recorded, more than during the entire month of December 2021 (674 cases). As of 20 May 2022, the Ministry of Health has recorded 14,373* COVID-19 cases, including 113 deaths, since the beginning of the pandemic.

Conducive environment

A survey conducted by the NGO Ground Truth Solutions indicated that Central Africans are ready to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and believe that the vaccine will help to eradicate the virus, despite some scepticism and misinformation that persist. Humanitarian and development partners have been supporting the Ministry of Health in elaborating a communication campaign to inform and encourage people to get vaccinated and to counter the spread of false information about the vaccine.

Challenges on all fronts

CAR looks back at a year during which humanitarian needs soared. Never in the past five years have there been so many people in acute need as today. COVID-19 hit a country already ravaged by decades of armed conflict and underdevelopment. According to the WHO, CAR was among the least prepared to face the pandemic. A series of aggravating factors render the country both vulnerable and the response to the pandemic difficult:

The health system is barely functioning, due to a chronic shortage of skilled health workers, medical equipment and basic medicines. Seventy per cent of health services are provided by humanitarian organizations and over 2.7 million people, half of the population, need health assistance. One in four Central Africans walks for over an hour to reach the nearest clinic and for many, the bills for consultations and medications are unaffordable. Only one in three Central Africans has access to clean water and for many, soap is a luxury good. Access to water and sanitation is particularly problematic at the many sites where 174,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) live, often in crowded makeshift shelters where physical distancing is not practicable.

The provision of protective equipment and medical devices to diagnose and treat COVID-19 patients posed a serious challenge, particularly at the onset of the pandemic. Poor road infrastructure and the six-month rainy season disrupt supply chains to large parts of the country. Insecurity further hinders access to services and the possibility of humanitarians to reach people in need of assistance. A severe lack in cold chain infrastructure further impedes the safe supply of medicines across the country.

Unprecedented humanitarian response

Faced with these challenges, humanitarian and development organizations have scaled up support to the Ministry of Health since March 2020 to provide a comprehensive and decentralized response and to strengthen the public health system and access to water and sanitation. Nearly a third of the US$ 553.6 million budget for humanitarian assistance in 2020 was dedicated to the COVID-19 response. As a result, humanitarian partners improved access to health care for 938,000 people in 2020 and made access to water and sanitation possible for 770,000 people, including many IDPs. To mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on food security, humanitarian organizations in 2020 assisted 900,000 vulnerable people with food and over 170,000 farmers were able to produce their own food and increase income thanks to agricultural support.

Adapting the modality of assistance

Cash-based interventions became a preferred modality of assistance that avoids large crowds and provides a safer space for humanitarian assistance in times of an epidemic. With 48 per cent more beneficiaries reached in 2020 compared to the previous year, cash-based assistance experienced a surge. This steady increase continued in 2021, with 1.6 million people who received cash-based assistance, twice as many as in 2020. 577,000 people received US$ 12.1 million for COVID-related multisector assistance in cash or vouchers, first and foremost, to improve hygiene standards and access to water.

* Given limited testing capacities, the government’s diagnostic strategy since July 2020 limits tests to suspected cases and people at risk. Thus, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases should be interpreted with caution. For illustration, 90,715 people have been tested for COVID-19 as of 25 April 2022.

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Media

The danger of landmines and other explosive devices

Landmines and other explosive devices pose an increasing threat to the people in the Central African Republic (CAR). Civilians are the main victims. Since April 2021, accidents involving explosive devices have increased, particularly in the west of the country, where conflict has intensified. Landmines and other explosive devices kill and maim people and restrict access to farmland, markets, hospitals and schools. They also restrict access of humanitarian workers to those in need of assistance, further exacerbating humanitarian needs in a country where more than half of the population relies on humanitarian assistance. However, United Nations partners and others are working to reduce the risk to people's lives and livelihoods.

For more information on the danger of landmines and other explosive devices in CAR, click here.

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Central African Republic

Situation Report
Visual

Overview of population movements as of 30 April 2022

Overview of population movements as of 30 April 2022

As of 30 April2022, the total number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Central African Republic is estimated at 658,265 made up of 163,551 people living in sites (25 per cent) and 494,714 people in host families (75 per cent). The overall trend in April represents an increase of 8,471 IDPs (+1.3 per cent) compared to March 2022 when the number of IDPs was estimated at 649,794.

The month of April 2022 was marked by new waves of population movements larger than reported returns during the same month. This trend is linked to incursions by armed men into villages and clashes between them, and floods. The trend continued in April 2022 where the Population Movement Commission’spartners reported 14,032 new displacements and 5,561 returns.

New displacements are mainly observed in the transhumance corridors of Ouham and Ouham-Pendé, in areas plagued by armed incursions and abuses in Ouaka, Mbomou and Ombella-M’Poko, as well as in villages affected by floods in Ouham-Pendé and Vakaga. Download the infographic here.

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Central African Republic

Situation Report
Visual

Scaling up cash-based interventions, January - December 2021

Scaling up cash-based interventions, January - December 2021

In line with the 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan and the preferences expressed by affected people, humanitarian actors have continued to scale up cash-based interventions (CBI) in the Central African Republic. Some 1.6 million people have been reached with CBI in 2021, twice as many as in 2020. Most programmes aim at tackling growing food insecurity and mitigating the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19. Joint analysis (people's preferences, markets and protection risks), the use of common tools (minimum expenditure basket) and enhanced coordination, including through the UN Common Cash System (UNCCS) partnership, ensured the quality of CBI programming.

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Central African Republic

Situation Report
Analysis
A survivor of gender-based violence participates in a focus group in Zémio, Haut-Mbomou Prefecture. ©OCHA/Virginie Bero, 2020
A survivor of gender-based violence participates in a focus group in Zémio, Haut-Mbomou Prefecture. ©OCHA/Virginie Bero, 2020

Gender-based violence: a scourge with devastating consequences

Gender-based violence has assumed alarming proportions in the Central African Republic (CAR), particularly in the wake of the crisis that has been afflicting the country for several years. This situation is exacerbated by socio-cultural norms that are unfavourable to women and girls, despite the existence of policies and legislation[1]. Since the end of December 2020, new conflict dynamics have worsened the humanitarian situation and degraded the protective environment, reflected in the largest number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) recorded since 2015: 722,000 people were displaced within CAR in October 2021 and 692,000 in December the same year. Moreover, the country has never recorded so many people in need of humanitarian assistance and protection as today: 3.1 million people, including 2.1 million in such severe need that their physical and mental well-being is continuously at risk. Although IDPs and refugees are often the most visible face of the crisis in CAR, gender-based violence (GBV), especially sexual violence, has recently reached particularly worrying levels.

An alarming rise

According to the statistics of the Gender-based Violence Information Management System (GBVIMS) collected at dedicated services covering only 52 per cent of the country’s sub-prefectures, 11,592 GBV have been recorded in 2021, a 26 per cent increase compared to 2020. Moreover, these statistics do not include cases where survivors have not consented to data sharing. Thus, the situation in the whole country could be more worrying. Sexual violence made up a quarter of these GBV cases and a closer look reveals a worrying trend with victims of sexual violence becoming younger and younger. The cases of sexual violence recorded in the first quarter of 2021 increased fivefold compared to the last quarter of 2020, while the percentage of acts allegedly committed by weapon bearers rose from 7 to 23 per cent. The conflict, which intensified in late 2020, has greatly weakened the protection of civilians, while the security situation is marked by new dynamics that increase and change the nature of threats to civilians. Sexual violence is today seen as the main security risk for women and girls, especially for IDPs. In 2021, the Working Group on Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Arrangements (MARA) on Conflict-related Sexual Violence documented 587 cases of conflict-related sexual violence, a 235 per cent increase compared to 2020 and 211 per cent compared to 2019.  Overcoming multiple suffering

Survivors of GBV, especially sexual violence – the vast majority women and girls – suffer greatly and in different ways from the violence. In addition to the direct damage and suffering caused by the aggression, survivors have to deal with stigma often reinforced by unfavourable socio-cultural norms, as well as guilt and shame and their consequences, especially for livelihoods. Victims of sexual violence are often afraid or ashamed to return to work in the fields or resume other activities that used to support them and their families, which pushes them into poverty. Access to justice is often not chosen by the victim for fear of stigmatization by the community, or not seeing the process succeed due to lack of trust in the judiciary system, the lack of resources and expertise of the judiciary, or its weak presence, especially in the interior of the country.

Strengthening a holistic response

Survivors of GBV, especially sexual violence, have physical scars to heal, but the suffering this scourge causes socially and psychologically requires further attention, especially psychosocial, socio-economic and legal assistance. Although the structures set up by the humanitarian community in Bangui include all these aspects, this is not yet the case outside the capital. Against this background, and in line with the priorities identified by the GBV Strategy Group, the Humanitarian Coordinator in August 2021 allocated a special envelope of US$ 4 million from the Humanitarian Fund to respond to unmet humanitarian needs and scale up the response in the regions most affected by GBV. In addition to awareness raising among communities and the provision of medical, psychosocial and socio-economic services for survivors, this special fund exceptionally includes legal support for survivors. While all GBV survivors received psychosocial assistance in 2021, only 46 per cent of them received multisectoral assistance covering at least two services, including medical care, legal assistance or socio-economic reintegration. During the same year, humanitarians received only 45 percent of required funds to meet GBV-related needs. Although progress has been achieved in terms of holistic care, the Central African Republic does not have a multisectoral center that can allow survivors to access all types of services as a one stop center. Such facility would increase access to various services in a protective environment, in particular against stigmatization. In 2022, 1.2 million people will need GBV assistance.

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[1] Action Plan of the National Strategy to Combat GBV, 2019 together with the National Strategy to fight GBV, child marriage and female genital mutilation in CAR (2019-2023). National policy for the promotion of gender equality and equity (second edition), 2020.

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Central African Republic

Situation Report
Feature
Brigitte Gbenou selling millet at the Lazaré IDP site market. ©OCHA/Prisque Bongole, Kaga-Bandoro, Nana-Gribizi Prefecture, CAR.
Brigitte Gbenou selling millet at the Lazaré IDP site market. ©OCHA/Prisque Bongole, Kaga-Bandoro, Nana-Gribizi Prefecture, CAR.

Overcoming challenges to give their best

Persisting insecurity and recurrent violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) and socio-cultural norms unfavourable to women and girls suffocate efforts to improve the living conditions and status of women, despite existing policies and legislation [1]. Sexual violence is considered the main security risk for women and girls, especially for those displaced. Reducing gender inequalities and increasing women empowerment remain a challenge in CAR, where women and girls make up half of the population. They suffer significant inequalities as one of the most vulnerable social groups. According to the Human Development Report, published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 2021, CAR ranks 159th of 162 countries with a gender inequality index of 0.680. CAR also has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world: 890 Central African women die for every 100,000 live births, compared to an average of 439 deaths in Africa. Women are also under-represented in decision-making bodies and in the process of restoring peace and security. In the National Assembly, for example, only 18 per cent of deputies are women, according to the CAR Gender Profile 2021 published by UNDP and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women). Despite these difficulties, Central African women stand up and fight every day to make their voices heard and earn their living.

Multiple roles to make ends meet

At sunrise, Brigitte has to divide her time between her field, the market where she sells millet and a children's centre. A widow and internally displaced woman, she alone takes care of her seven children and three grandchildren. "If I gave up now, our situation would be even worse.” When she was young, Brigitte dreamed of becoming a doctor. As she didn't have this opportunity, her way of helping the community is by sharing her knowledge and bringing a smile to the faces of children displaced by conflict at the Lazare site for internally displaced people (IDP) in Kaga-Bandoro, where more than 173,580 people live, most of them women and children. Brigitte teaches the children educational games, draws and sings with them, and thereby provides them with a protective environment. The allowance received from the NGO Plan International for her work as a monitor at the children's centre enabled her to support her family.

While fighting for her family's survival, Brigitte deplores the violence suffered by displaced women. "When we go to fetch firewood or water, we get attacked, some women get raped. But despite this suffering, we must continue fighting for our children. When the project that supported the children's centre at the IDP site came to an end, Brigitte turned to agriculture and trade. Her only wish is to build a house on the land her late husband left her and leave the IDP site.

Meeting the daily challenges despite her disability

Ella Delphine Mack, a single mother, lives in the 7th arrondissement of Bangui. She wakes up early every morning to get her daughter ready for school and to take care of her six-month-old baby, before she prepares herself to go to the Ministry of Finance and Budget, where she is doing an internship. Since an accident at the age of 14, Ella walks on crutches. Despite her disability, she climbs the stairs to her work place on the 4th floor of the Ministry. "The conditions are difficult, but this is the only internship I got after knocking on several doors," says Ella.

Driven by her feeling of exclusion, Ella founded the National Association of Central African Women with Disabilities as a way to make their voices heard and to fight for their survival. "After all, our voices remain weak, but this won’t discourage us because the fact that we are together encourages us women with disabilities in the fight to be heard," she explains. With its 59 members, the association organises small contributions that allow its members to help each other, notably by covering the school fees of 10 children with disabilities.

A humanitarian role model

Mama Béatrice works for the NGO Bria Londo, which means 'Get up, Bria' in Sango, the main language spoken in CAR. Every Thursday afternoon, she connects isolated towns in the centre of the country through high frequency (HF) radio so they can share alerts concerning the protection of civilians in this region shaken by violence and where cell phone coverage remains poor. On the radio, Mama Béatrice also gives advice on mediating conflicts that emerge in the community.

"When I was young, I admired my economics professor at university. I dreamed of becoming like her and inspiring others," she says proudly. Today, it is Mama Béatrice who is a role model for other women. "I once gave a presentation in Sam-Ouandja, a very remote town, where I was on mission with the NGO. The women told that it was the first time they had seen a woman stand up in front of men and pass on knowledge. They said that it touched and inspired them.”

Participating in field missions was not always easy for Mama Beatrice. "At first, my male colleagues would not let me go on missions. They said that women were unable to do a humanitarian needs assessment and raise awareness and were vulnerable, and they decided that only men would participate in missions. I told them about the importance of woman participate. It is often much easier for women to speak to other women than to men, especially about sensitive issues like health and violence, but also about family and children. After much hesitation, I could finally convince my male colleagues.” To a young woman who wants to start a career in the humanitarian sector, Mama Beatrice would advise to always demand her rights and break down barriers for a better participation of women.

Celebrating International Women's Day

"The International Women's Day is my day," says Mama Beatrice. "I celebrate this day every year with great joy and participate in the women's march. This day is important to draw attention to the fact that Central African women are still marginalized and not considered in decision-making.”

Although they come from different parts of CAR, the three women Brigitte, Ella and Mama Beatrice share the same vision of International Women's Day: an opportunity to make their voices heard.

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[1] Action Plan of the National Strategy to Combat GBV (2019), accompanied by the National Strategy to Combat GBV, Child Marriage and FGM in CAR (2019-2023). National policy for the promotion of gender equality and equity (2nd edition), 2020.

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Central African Republic

Situation Report
Emergency Response
Staff at the Ippy Hospital receive medications from humanitarian partners after the massif influx of internally displaced people led to a significant shortage. ©OCHA/A.Cadonau, Ippy, Ouaka Prefecture.
Staff at the Ippy Hospital receive medications from humanitarian partners after the massif influx of internally displaced people led to a significant shortage. ©OCHA/A.Cadonau, Ippy, Ouaka Prefecture, CAR.

People in complete distress after fleeing to Ippy

The situation of the people living in Ippy, a sub-prefecture in the centre of the Central African Republic (CAR) which has long been notorious for its insecurity, has again deteriorated considerably in recent months.

Cyclical armed clashes displaced more than 4,800 people from the surrounding axes to Ippy town since early January, in addition to the 12,000 internally displaced people (IDP) who had arrived previously. And new people are arriving every day, fearful, desperate and with not much more than the clothes they are wearing. An enormous burden for a town with an estimated 50,000 inhabitants and an infrastructure for water, education and health care that cannot provide for a fraction of the population – even before the current crisis.

Straw huts are springing up like mushrooms in Ippy. Simple constructions of branches covered with straw collected in the surroundings protect the newly arrived IDPs from the sun and the cold at night and give them the feeling of having a roof over their heads, a little comfort in a world that is collapsing – for many not for the first time. They know that these huts will not last for long when the rains start in just a few weeks.

The people who fled have witnessed armed clashes, exactions, lootings and reprisals – caught between the conflicting parties. Entire villages have been destroyed, human rights and international humanitarian law gravely violated. Other people have fled preventively in fear for their lives.

Worsening of an already precarious humanitarian situation

The needs of the distressed population are enormous. Both IDPs and host families lack the basic necessities for survival: people no longer have access to the fields where insecurity reigns, the market is empty, diseases are rampant, healthcare and schooling is unaffordable and people are afraid.

The latest cycles of violence come in an already precarious context: 40,000 people need assistance and protection in the sub-prefecture, a number that has sharply increased in recent months. Ippy is one of the 20 sub-prefectures (out of 72) most affected by food insecurity and classified in the emergency phase of food insecurity (IPC phase 4). A recent national food security survey indicates that more than 80 per cent of the population does not have enough to eat. At the same time, the minimum monthly basket of food and non-food items considered necessary to survive is at XAF 87,000 (US$145) nearly 50 per cent more expensive than the national average, while more than 94 per cent of households report earning less than XAF 50,000 (US$86) per month. The calculation for survival simply does not add up.

Fear in their eyes

One can still see the fear in the eyes of those who recently fled to the town of Ippy. At the Ippy Hospital, the fearful memories of what Tatjana and Guillaume experienced mix with the fear for her daughter. The young parents seek treatment for their one-year old who suffers from malaria and an associated anaemia. Since they fled on foot from their village, 30 km away, a fortnight ago, they have been sleeping on the bare floor of a straw hut with their three children and other displaced families. Exposed to mosquitos and the chill of the night, and equipped with only a blanket and mat for the entire family. “It was only a matter of time before the first child would get sick. And that’s the last thing we need now”, says the young father in a voice that suggests how tired he must be. With no money in their pockets, buying simple materials like a blood transfusion bag for their daughter suddenly seems like an insurmountable problem, and fear rises. The hospital staff realise the seriousness of the situation and cover the costs. But how long will they be able to do so when thousands of patients are desperate? Guillaume sets off for the lab to see if he can save his daughter with his blood. Severe anaemia is widespread and emergency kits for blood transfusions are urgently needed, along with equipment for caesareans and incubators for premature babies.

In the adjacent building at the Ippy Hospital, Arsène sits on a bare hospital bed with beads of sweat on his forehead next to the large bandage that covers the spot where he was hit by a machete. “The attack came as a surprise when I was hunting in the forest. I probably wouldn’t be here today if someone hadn’t taken me the 10 km to Ippy by bicycle”, says the young man, looking thoughtfully at the bare concrete wall.

The Ippy Hospital is bustling with activity. A young woman is being transported on a stretcher. The waiting area in front of the paediatric clinic is crowded. Barely born babies are already suffering from diarrhoea, their lives hanging by a thread. The hospital staff is working day and night to cope with the massive rush the main health facility in Ippy has been experiencing for weeks.

In Yetouman, a spontaneous settlement that has sprung up in recent weeks and which shelters 700 families from surrounding villages, Marie Noëlla and her six children rely entirely on the solidarity of others to feed themselves. The few cassava sticks they had been able to take with them were quickly consumed after their arrival in Ippy two weeks earlier. The IDPs share what little food they have with each other. But how long will this be possible, as stocks are slowly but surely being depleted?

Scaling up emergency assistance

The Humanitarian Coordinator in CAR rang the alarm bells after an inter-agency assessment mission to Ippy on 3 February. Immediately, humanitarian organisations activated emergency response. Food supplements arrived on 3 February to cure and prevent malnutrition of the most vulnerable – children and mothers. Some 1.3 tons of medications were flown in by helicopter on 9 February after a major shortage was reported at the hospital. Basic supplies such as antibiotics were no longer available due to the increasing number of patients.

Urgently needed food and other relief items arrived in Ippy by road on 9 February and their distribution started immediately. The World Food Programme (WFP) distributed food to 15,000 people, inducing the newly arrived IDPs. The Refugee Agency (UNHCR) distributed tarps, mats, kitchen utensils, soap, buckets and solar lamps to 400 families and the NGO ACTED will distribute further relief items to the newly arrived, who have not yet received anything, after ACTED already assisted 1,186 families in late January. ACTED rehabilitated two boreholes and built 24 emergency latrines, including at the Yetouman site; the rehabilitation of a spring and the development of a well will follow.

Children are given specific attention by the NGO Esperance and UNICEF. They provide psychosocial support to 508 displaced children to overcome what they experienced; take care of a dozen children separated by their families during the flight and place them in host families; and monitor that children’s rights are respected and act, if they are violated. To keep children in school, UNICEF and partners are setting up emergency classes in tents for nearly 1,000 displaced children, mobilize teachers among the IDPs and provide basic school supplies.

UNICEF and the NGO COHEB support nutritional therapy and medical treatment at the Ippy Hospital. Some 225 severely malnourished children were already taken care of between early January and early February, saving lives. Mobile clinics take care of small children, pregnant women, young mothers and emergencies at the IDP sites and COHEB medical staff work alongside government health personnel at the Ippy Hospital, providing additional expertise and workforce.

The peacekeeping mission MINUSCA reinforces patrols on the main surrounding axes and strengthens capacities of the Armed Forces and Gendarmerie to protect civilians. Moreover, peacekeepers will rehabilitate boreholes outside of town.

Strong and continued commitment

The Humanitarian Response Plan for CAR requires US$461.3 million in 2022 to assist 2 million people whose survival is at risk. Donors in CAR remain committed to the Central African population. “Thanks to the longstanding partnership with the European Union and Switzerland, whose representatives travelled to Ippy with me to see the impact of the recent crisis first-hand, and the flexible funding they provide, OCHA and partners are able to do whatever it takes to help the most vulnerable people”, said the Humanitarian Coordinator Denise Brown. In 2021, thanks to the generosity of donors and the strong mobilisation of humanitarian actors, 1.8 million vulnerable people received life-saving multi-sectoral assistance.

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Central African Republic

Situation Report
Emergency Response
Displaced children play around traditional wooden canoes on the banks of the Ubangi River, Bangui, CAR. ©OCHA / S. Modola
Displaced children play around traditional wooden canoes on the banks of the Ubangi River, Bangui, CAR. ©OCHA / S. Modola

The new Humanitarian Response Plan 2022 for the Central African Republic

Violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) has ushered in new conflict dynamics in 2021. New threats have emerged, such as explosive devices, new actors have entered the scene, areas previously spared have slit into violence and frontlines have shifted.

Civilians have once again been the main victims of this new wave of violence. Hundreds of thousands of people across the country have been forced to flee, reaching the highest level of displacement recorded since 2014 in September, with 722,000 internally displaced people.

In this context, risks for the protection and survival of Central Africans have multiplied. In 2022, 3.1 million people – 63 per cent of the population – need humanitarian assistance and protection, a level not seen in five years.

In response to the deteriorating humanitarian situation and anticipated risks, the humanitarian community in CAR, through the Humanitarian Response Plan, will provide multi-sectoral assistance to 2 million people in 2022. To assist these people, US$461.3 million will be required. Extraordinary donor support, as in 2021, will be needed more than ever to achieve this.

In 2021, the humanitarian community intensified its response in areas with high needs while striving to respond to shocks effectively and access hard-to-reach areas. 85 per cent of emergency interventions following a violent shock, such as forced displacement, covered several sectors, such as shelter, food, health and water. 36 tonnes of relief items were transported by helicopter to otherwise inaccessible areas. 1.5 million people received cash transfers to cover their basic needs. In total, 1.7 million people received life-saving assistance between January and September 2021, almost twice as many as in 2018.

In 2022, more than ever, protection will be a collective priority integrated into the humanitarian response in CAR. Internally displaced people, women, girls and minorities have proven to be particularly vulnerable.

The humanitarian response in 2022 will be participatory, protective and close to the affected people. First, communities will define with humanitarian actors the most relevant activities to meet their needs and they will be involved throughout implementation and monitoring, in line with the humanitarian community's collective commitment to accountability. Second, the protection imperative will be integrated to ensure that assistance not only does not discriminate or create additional risks for communities, but also detects and responds to gender-based violence and sexual exploitation and abuse. Finally, greater proximity to beneficiaries will be promoted through the decentralisation of humanitarian action and the coordination of efforts with local actors. These three pillars will be the basis for a multi-sectoral intervention in the sub-prefectures where the needs are most acute, while strengthening collaboration with development actors in order to maximise the impact of interventions.

For more information, see the Humanitarian Response Plan 2022 for the Central African Republic (in French).

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Central African Republic

Situation Report
Analysis
Displaced children at the Elevage IDP site in Bambari, Ouaka Prefecture. ©OCHA/S. Modola
Displaced children at the Elevage IDP site in Bambari, Ouaka Prefecture. ©OCHA/S. Modola

Central African Republic: A humanitarian emergency not seen since 2015

The humanitarian emergency in the Central African Republic has reached levels not seen since 2015 due to the new conflict dynamics observed since December 2020. In 2022, 3.1 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection, 63 per cent of the population. Of these, 2.2 million people will have needs that are so complex and severe, that their physical and mental well-being is at risk. This is an increase of 16 per cent, or 300,000 more people in severe humanitarian needs compared to 2021.

Recurring violence, persistent shocks and the degradation of basic services have significantly worsened the living conditions of Central Africans in 2021. At the same time, people’s resilience continues eroding under the weight of successive crises and economic recession, forcing nearly the entire population to adopt negative coping mechanisms.

These are the findings of a joint multisectoral analysis and an unprecedented consultation effort undertaken by the humanitarian community with the people in need, published in the Humanitarian Needs Overview 2022 for the Central African Republic. The affected people were at the heart of the analysis, with 17,300 households interviewed, including in the most remote corners of the country. They shed light on how the current crisis affects people’s living conditions, services and access, and inform about people’s priority needs.

Exacerbation of needs

The sectors with the largest number of people in need in 2022 are water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH); medical care; protection; and food security, with between 2.4 and 2.8 million people needing assistance to access basic services and goods essential for survival. Of all sectors, the need for WASH has increased the most since last year, with 12 per cent or 300,000 more people needing assistance to access clean water and hygienic sanitation facilities. The risk of diseases and malnutrition has risen as fast as access to water decreases. The number of human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law has increased as their nature has changed, with new risks to civilians such as explosive devices or the stigmatisation of entire communities on ethnic or religious grounds, significantly increasing protection needs. In the context of the conflict, food insecurity has worsened due to reduced access to fields, market disruptions and the decline in agricultural production, the main source of livelihoods.

Solid basis for the humanitarian response

To meet people’s needs in 2022, humanitarian actors in collaboration with the Central African government elaborate a common strategy to guide their interventions, based on the insights of the Humanitarian Needs Overview 2022. This strategy will be detailed in the Humanitarian Response Plan 2022 for the Central African Republic, which will be published in December 2021.

Despite generous donor contributions, as of early November, the 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan was funded at just 63 per cent of the US$ 444.8 million required. Humanitarians count on donors’ continued commitment to stand with the Central Africans and enable humanitarian organizations to meet people’s ever-growing needs in 2022. From January to September 2021, humanitarian partners in the Central African Republic provided lifesaving, multisectoral assistance to 1.6 million people, despite the increasingly volatile security context.

Download the Humanitarian Needs Overview 2022 for the Central African Republic here (French). A consolidated version in English is available here.

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Central African Republic

Situation Report
Background
A displaced woman uses one of the new phone booths at the PK3 IDP site in Bria to stay in contact with her family. ©WFP/Elizabeth Millership, Bria, Haute-Kotto Prefecture, CAR, 2021.
A displaced woman uses one of the new phone booths at the PK3 IDP site in Bria to stay in contact with her family. ©WFP/Elizabeth Millership, Bria, Haute-Kotto Prefecture, CAR, 2021.

Giving a voice to those affected by conflict

In the Central African Republic, 3.1 million people need humanitarian assistance and protection. Of these, 2.2 million people have needs that are so complex and severe, their physical and mental well-being is at risk. Evaluations and assessments conducted by humanitarian organizations help to determine the scale of people’s needs, understand those needs, and define response plans. To develop appropriate, community-based programmes, humanitarian actors also collect feedback from affected communities on the assistance they have received. This feedback is crucial, as it places affected people at the centre of humanitarian response. Assistance can then be adjusted and improved, wherever needed.

A cross-cutting issue

As part of the Intercluster Coordination Group (ICCG), the Working Group on Accountability to Affected People (AAP) ensures the establishment and monitoring of collective mechanisms for community engagement and accountability to affected communities. The Working Group produces regular analyses of feedback, complaints, and requests for information from affected people with the aim of identifying trends in satisfaction, priority needs, and preventing the spread of misinformation. The Working Group then advises humanitarian partners through national and regional coordination mechanisms on appropriate actions to take in response to feedback from communities. Where to find assistance? Where to complain if you have been harmed while receiving humanitarian assistance? Where to find the right information? How is humanitarian action perceived in affected communities? These are some of the questions the AAP Working Group helps to answer.

Humanitarian partners have established information and feedback centres at sites for internally displaced people (IDP) in Bria, Kaga-Bandoro and Bambari, all located in central CAR. In so-called ‘listening clubs’, through kiosks selling movies and music, and via interactive radio programmes in Bria, Bambari, Kaga-Bandoro, Bangassou, Obo and Zémio, specially trained staff collect information from communities and in return, provide these communities with information that can save lives. Various assessments carried out this year have shown that people in general, as well as beneficiaries of humanitarian assistance, feel that they are not sufficiently informed about humanitarian assistance, the criteria to receive assistance and access to humanitarian services (Multisectoral Needs Assessment 2021).

Improving feedback and complaint mechanisms

In September 2021, the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) supported by the Central African Republic Humanitarian Fund automated the interagency common feedback and complaints mechanisms led by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in partnership with the NGO Intersos at an IDP site in Bria, Haute-Kotto Prefecture. Located in eastern CAR, the IDP site – known as PK3 – is home to the country's largest displaced population of nearly 39,000 people (Population Movement Commission, September 2021). Utilizing customer relationship management software also used in the banking sector, trained agents confidentially record complaints and feedback from displaced people on tablets connected to the internet. The information is then automatically transmitted to the humanitarian organisations concerned by the feedback or complaint, significantly speeding up the process. In the past, such processes were carried out manually, for example with notes deposited in suggestion boxes, which limited the feedback mechanism to those who could write and restricted the timeliness of responses.

The ETC has also installed five telephone booths at the IDP site in Bria to allow people affected by the crisis to communicate with their families and to call humanitarian helplines free of charge. Mobile phones are the main means of contact for displaced families. On average, one in five displaced people own a mobile phone, according to an ETC assessment, while four in 10 displaced people pay to make calls. Charging stations for mobile phones have also been set up by the ETC at the PK3 site in Bria that can be used free of charge. By promoting free and safe access to mobile communications, these services provide critical access to information for affected people. In Bria, half of the population faces barriers to receiving information, particularly due to the lack of a radio or a telephone (Multisectoral Needs Assessment 2021).

Further efforts

While displaced people at the PK3 site in Bria now have access to information at their fingertips as well as opportunities to provide feedback on humanitarian assistance, this is not yet the case in other parts of CAR. Staff to support common feedback mechanisms are gradually being trained and infrastructure put in place by the humanitarian community, based on lessons learned and using available resources.

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Central African Republic

Situation Report
Emergency Response
An internally displaced woman selling cassava sticks, the main staple in the Central African Republic, at a site for displaced people in Batangafo. ©OCHA/Adrienne Surprenant, Batangafo, Ouham Prefecture, CAR, 2020.
An internally displaced woman selling cassava sticks, the main staple in the Central African Republic, at a site for displaced people in Batangafo. ©OCHA/Adrienne Surprenant, Batangafo, Ouham Prefecture, CAR, 2020.

Alarm bells in the face of soaring food insecurity

The Central African Republic is a fertile country. It rains abundantly, the soil is rich and a variety of crops, fruits and vegetables grows almost year-round. Despite this apparent abundance, one in every two people does not have enough to eat.

The reason is the conflict that has again intensified since the beginning of the year. The number of internally displaced people has never been as high since 2014 as over the past months, now reaching 691,000. People live in fear of attacks and exactions by armed groups, which limits their mobility and access to fields and forests to cultivate, gather and hunt. The dangerous environment further restricts humanitarian organizations from reaching people in need. One of the results is the continued deterioration of food security since last year.

A sombre picture

Indicators projecting nutrition and food security for the lean season from April to August were already sombre but have again worsened in July.

In April, the Central African Republic reported the second highest number of people in critical food insecurity in West and Central Africa – the emergency phase, according to the global standard classification of acute food insecurity. By July, this figure had increased by 58 per cent compared to April, reaching 1 million people in critical food insecurity.

Monitoring data suggest that in July, overall 2.6 million people or 57 per cent of the Central African population did not have enough to eat. Of the 1 million people in an emergency situation concerning their food consumption, 250,000 were on the brink of famine. And to make the situation even worse, these people were largely inaccessible to humanitarian workers.

An urgent appeal

The Food Security Cluster, that unites humanitarian actors working in the sector, is sounding the alarm bells in the face of soaring food insecurity and malnutrition in the Central African Republic. Unless the humanitarian response is scaled up immediately, more than 2 million people will be food insecure by September; of them, 900,000 will remain in the emergency phase and at least 250,000 will likely fall into famine.

With no end of the conflict in sight, the vast majority of conflict-affected people will continue to rely on humanitarian assistance in the coming months. Without safe, sustained and unimpeded humanitarian access to the areas of highest food insecurity, a quarter million people will slip into a food security disaster.

The food sector now urgently requires US$22.5 million to provide life-saving full ration food assistance for 3 months for the 250,000 people at the highest risk of a catastrophic food situation, including to assist those in hard-to-reach areas by air. Only half of the country’s Humanitarian Response Plan 2021 is currently funded. The lack of resources in light of the population’s soaring needs has already forced the World Food Programme (WFP) to reduce monthly food assistance to a 20-day ration.

Malnutrition among children

In July, 80,000 children below the age of 5 were at risk of severe acute malnutrition (SAM), a 29 per cent-increase since the end of 2020. The risk of SAM is particularly high for displaced children and those in locations affected by conflict, where access to food, clean water, health care and nutrition services has been severely restricted and food prices have skyrocketed. Across the country, 395,000 children younger than 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition – 40 per cent of all children in this age group, a rate considerably above the emergency threshold of 30 per cent. Inadequate nutrition over a long period of time disrupts their growth. Acute malnutrition represents a major public health problem and is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in young children.

Linking access restrictions

Humanitarian monitoring systems indicate a direct link between conflict, growing access challenges and the sharp increase in food insecurity. Safe and unhindered humanitarian assistance to areas in the northwest, notably Ouham and Ouham-Pendé Prefectures, and the south-eastern Basse-Kotto, Haut-Mbomou and Mbomou Prefectures is hampered by active conflict, shifting frontlines and the presence of explosive devices. These same factors limit access to fields, the mobility of migrant herders and the supply of markets. The rainy season from April to October further restricts humanitarian organizations’ ability to deliver assistance at scale and at an affordable price by road.

What is being done

During the first half of 2021, 1.29 million people received life-saving food or nutrition assistance from humanitarian partners. But humanitarian access remains very restricted, if not impossible, in various locations in Ouham-Pendé, Haut-Mbomou, Basse-Kotto and Ouaka Prefectures.

During the current agricultural season, 60,900 food insecure households of 305,000 people are receiving urgent support to re-establish agricultural livelihoods through the distribution of seeds and tools, re-stocking of fast-maturing livestock and cash transfers.

In June, the World Bank approved a US$50 million grant to boost food production and build the resilience of food insecure smallholders and households in the Central African Republic. This financing will provide much needed support to more than 465,000 food insecure small farmers through cash-for-work activities, while rehabilitating small-scale agricultural infrastructure in six prefectures in the west and centre of the country and the capital Bangui.

Investing in long-term solutions

Humanitarian partners are also investing in more sustainable solutions for the prevention and management of malnutrition, including the promotion of nutritious foods, good feeding practices for infants, children and pregnant and breastfeeding women and multisectoral response related to the provision of quality basic social services, including water, sanitation and hygiene, health care and protection.

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