The European Commission pledged new funding for conflict-ridden Central African Republic, including to the Bêkou Trust Fund it established with several other donors nearly a year ago.
The Commission announced 72 million euros ($78.6 million) in new funding, including 22 million euros for the trust fund. Additional pledges came from Germany (5 million euros), Italy (1 million euros) and Switzerland (1 million Swiss francs).
The newly pledged funding was expected to be seen as continued commitment by the international community to CAR. EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica noted in a blog post that he believes the “increase of financial support confirms that the EU and its friends are strategic, long-term partners of CAR.”
But the action betrays another reality — that CAR remains a largely forgotten crisis, despite some donors’ efforts to improve its situation.
The EU remains the biggest contributor to the fund, which was created to pool resources for the relief, rehabilitation and long-term development of the country. CAR has been besieged by an internal conflict that started in 2013, which drove the country back to instability and left many of its citizens in dire need of humanitarian assistance. Internal conflict has also reversed many of the development gains the country had achieved in recent decades.
Could it be a lack of confidence in interim President Catherine Samba Panza’s commitment to reforms, including in organizing national elections later this year, or just complete indifference to CAR?
It’s unclear why, but CAR has for years been an aid orphan.
A look at the U.N.’s 2015 strategic response plan for CAR shows as much: As of the time of writing, only 21 percent of the $613 million appeal for this year has been funded. Much of the pledged funding is concentrated on very few organizations working in select sectors. Food security has only secured 2.2 percent of the necessary $195 million. And WASH has not received a single pledge towards its $44 million request.
During the news briefing after the conference, Panza said there have been many pledges and announcements of people’s intention to provide support, “but in real terms, disbursements have not kept up with our hopes.”
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.
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