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 of 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. Just last year, the first ever EU Trust Fund, calledBêkou, was established together with France, Germany and the Netherlands to better support projects that link humanitarian and development actions in CAR and to pave the way for its recovery.
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 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 the following 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 (APF). 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 nine months between April 2014 and March 2015, it creates the conditions for the provision of humanitarian aid. The overall cost of the operation was estimated at € 38 million.
Since March, a new EU military Advisory Mission (EUMAM CAR) has been deployed in CAR. In parallel, on 28 April a Security Council Resolution), renewed the mandate of MINUSCA for one year.
2) Humanitarian assistance
The Central African Republic is in the worst humanitarian crisis since its independence. More than half of the 4.6 million population are in immediate need of humanitarian assistance. There are more than 436 000 internally displaced people, including over 44 000 in the capital. The crisis has forced over 220 000 people to flee to Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Republic of Congo since December 2013. There are over 461 000 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 €130 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 in 2014.
In 2015 and to date, more than €47 million have already been committed by the EU (Commission and Member States) of which €14 million by the European Commission as a response to the most urgent needs in CAR.
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.
Through a 2013 €12 million stabilisation package, with the EU's Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP), the EU provides support to restore police missions in Bangui, to support independent media in CAR, to promote community dialogue and peace, supports the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for missions in CAR and promotes the rejection of armed violence at community level.
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.
The €4.65 million IcSP project offers support to the transition process in CAR. In order to facilitate political dialogue it provides support to the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (CHD). In addition, as Housing, Land and Property (HLP) rights of those affected by the displacement will inevitably be a major concern, the project provides support through the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and seeks to strengthen HLP rights with local authorities, humanitarian actors and community leaders, ,while also organising an information campaign for those affected.
A €3 million IcSP action is currently being launched. It aims, on the one hand, to provide support to the civic education of civil society organisations and build their capacity for election observation, and, on the other hand, to support the initial steps of implementing the security sectorial reform.
Overall IcSP contribution to stabilise CAR amounts to € 32.5 million.
4) Resilience and 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.
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).
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: Restoration of basic social services in the CAR: education and health (€27 million), support for the 2015 electoral process in the Central African Republic (€20 million) and support for the preservation and consolidation of the Central African Republic state (€33M).
The Bêkou Trust Fund
Moreover, in July 2014 the first EU Trust Fundwas established with three Member States (France, Germany and the Netherlands). The Bêkou Trust Fund, (which means hope in the Sango language received an original total amount of €74 million (€51 million from the European Commission, €10 million from France, €10 million from Germany, €3 million from the Netherlands), it provides more flexibility to the EU's work in this specific and complex context of the CAR.
As of today, six projects have been approved by the Trust Fund's Operational Committee, on health (€15 million), urban rehabilitation (€4.5 million), gender (€1.5 million), food security (€10 million), on limiting the effects of the CAR crisis in the region, focusing on refugees in the east of Cameroon (€4.5 million) and on a program to promote the independence of economic actors and economic re-launch (€11 million). The first contracts were signed at the beginning of 2015 and activities have already started, benefiting more than 1 million people.
Currently a State Building Contract 2015-2016 is under preparation for a total amount of €40 million, out of which, if agreed by the Member States, €25 million will be disbursed in 2015 and €15 million in 2016.
Under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), the EU Delegation in CAR is currently finalising a project with the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) for a total of €1.2 million, for 2014 and 2015. The project's objective is to document human rights violations and international crimes, accompany and support victims of international crimes before national and international courts, mobilise states, the international community and the civil society to fight against impunity, respect for human rights and democratic principles.
5) Regional impact of the crisis
In order to mitigate the regional impact of the CAR crisis on neighbouring countries, the EU has been active to provide targeted humanitarian assistance for CAR refugees in border regions in Chad, Cameroon and DRC (€ 14 million in 2014 and so far additional €5,3 million in 2015). Through an ongoing IcSP-funded project in Chad, it also facilitates the integration of returnees/refugees in host communities and helps prevent potential radicalisation (€12 million). A similar initiative is under preparation for Cameroon (€4 million).
For more information
The EU boosts its support to recovery and development in the Central African Republic: