GENEVA, MAY 6 – Four international aid agencies, including INTERSOS, have temporarily suspended their operations in northern Central African Republic due to attacks on aid workers by armed groups, the United Nations said on Friday. Solidarités International, Intersos, Danish Church Aid, and Person in Need Relief Mission will withdraw their staff to the capital, Bangui, while other aid groups have decided to scale back to focus only on life-saving operations, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Speaking to reporters in Geneva, OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke said that the international NGOs would move to the capital, because threats against aid workers “have reached a climax. During the first quarter of the year, 33 incidents targeting humanitarians were recorded across the country, placing CAR “among the high-risk countries for humanitarian aid,” OCHA said. Sixteen of those attacks were in the northern prefecture of Ouham, and were reported since March.
The senior UN humanitarian official in the country strongly condemned the attacks, reminding that half of the population – about 2.2 million people – depends on aid. Provision of basic services has been hampered by decades of instability, the latest following the ouster of President François Bozizé by the Séléka rebel coalition in March 2013. “Suspending this aid would jeopardize social stability and threaten the fragile resilience of the communities,” said the Humanitarian Coordinator, Michel Yao. (@OnuItalia)