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ICRC steps up spending in Central African Republic

17-07-2006 News Release 06/75

Geneva (ICRC) – The last half of 2005 and the first months of 2006 saw the emergence in the north of the Central African Republic (CAR) of armed groups opposed to the government.

Fighting between these groups and government forces has claimed dozens of lives, and tens of thousands of people have had to flee their villages due to the general lack of security in the area.

In April, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) stepped up its presence in the Central African Republic, opening an office at Paoua in the north of the country, near the border with Chad. This presence has been accepted by both the government and the various armed groups.

The aims of operating here are to:

  • ensure that all arms bearers respect and protect civilians;

  • improve the living conditions of internally displaced persons, partly by distributing essential household items (the ICRC is supplying such items to 20,000 people);

  • visit people detained in connection with the situation, to verify that their conditions of detention and treatment meet international standards and the requirements of international law;

  • restore contact between members of families separated by the fighting and general insecurity;

  • maintain contact with all arms bearers, reminding them of the provisions and principles of international humanitarian law that would apply in a situation of armed conflict.

The ICRC has now allocated a further 1,718,806 Swiss francs to its work in the Central African Republic. This is on top of its initial budget of 4,631,730 Swiss francs. The ICRC’s long-standing operation in the CAR is managed from the organization’s regional delegation in Yaoundé, Cameroon, and thi s latest move will bring total funding for the Yaoundé delegation to 6,350,536 Swiss francs. Civilians in the area are likely to suffer from the consequences of violence for some time, and this budget extension will allow the ICRC to continue its activities here until the end of 2006.

“The aim of the ICRC’s work is to help and protect the civilian population, which is facing a deteriorating security situation, and to enable them to live in dignity. The ICRC will stay in Paoua as long as there is a need to help the victims of the disturbances,” explained Lorenzo Caraffi, deputy head of operations for this part of Africa at the ICRC’s headquarters in Geneva.

The ICRC is continuing to work closely with the Central African Red Cross Society, helping to train first-aiders and to reactivate the Society’s branches.

The organization has been in the Central African Republic since 1997, and currently has 17 staff in the country.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Nicolas Vako, ICRC Yaoundé, tel. + 237 222 5859,  

 Ian Piper, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 734 2063 or + 41 79 217 3216