Aid groups have been pulling staff members from the Central African Republic after rebels took over several towns, prompting security concerns.
The United Nations evacuated more than 200 non-essential staff members from the country in late December, including some from UNICEF who were relocated to Cameroon, The Independent reports. The International Rescue Committee, meanwhile, has pulled out four of its international staff members.
The move, according to both groups, is a precautionary measure in the event the rebels, which form part of the Seleka coalition, decide to advance to the capital, Bangui.
Médecins Sans Frontières, meanwhile, remains in the country. In the rebel-occupied town of Batangafo, for example, the international medical group continues to provide services and support a nearby health post “as much as the security situation allows it,” according to a news release.
But while not all aid groups are suspending operations and packing up, the situation could exacerbate the already fragile humanitarian situation in the country. There’s lack of infrastructure and a fragile legal system, according to the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. Poverty has given rise to child soldiers, and neighboring conflicts have spilled into the dry, landlocked nation. Northeast of CAR are Sudan and South Sudan; to its south are Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
IRC said it is ready to resume operations “as soon as it is safe to do so.” U.N. Spokesman Martin Nesirky, meanwhile, said the global body will “continue its support to the peace consolidation and development efforts in the Central African Republic,” according to France 24.
Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex senior reporter based in Manila. Since 2011, she has covered a wide range of development and humanitarian aid issues, from leadership and policy changes at DfID to the logistical and security impediments faced by international and local aid responders in disaster-prone and conflict-affected countries in Africa and Asia. Her interests include global health and the analysis of aid challenges and trends in sub-Saharan Africa.