EU saves the day on CAR funding

From left to right: European Union humanitarian aid chief Kristalina Georgieva, United Nations Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos and French minister delegate to the Minister for Foreign Affairs Pascal Canfin at the high-level meeting on the humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic in Brussels, Belgium. Photo by: EU

The European Commission, EU member states and other international donors pledged on Monday $496 million to deal with the emergency situation in the Central African Republic, one of the world’s most neglected crises.

After a high-level meeting called by EU humanitarian aid chief Kristalina Georgieva, the stakeholders committed to spending €150 million on direct assistance, nearly €200 in stabililization and development funds and almost €20 million more in other allocations to scale up both urgent interventions and short- to medium-term assistance in the country. Of this, the EC will provide up to €45 million.

“Through the successful mobilisation in Brussels today, 90 percent of the funding requirements estimated by the United Nations will be covered. This is a decisive moment in the face of the dramatic humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic,” said French deputy development minister Pascal Canfin.

READ:Race against time in the CAR

Georgieva added that the pledges show how the international humanitarian community “is determined to reinforce assistance and provide urgently needed aid to the most vulnerable.”

The stakeholders also expressed their support to sending U.N. peacekeepers to the country.

If that plan pushes through, the troops could help escort convoys to deliver much-needed food aid, as the CAR’s agricultural system has broken down after farmers fled their lands due to chronic insecurity just weeks before planting season, prompting fears of a famine. Many international aid groups have pulled out in the past few months for the same reason, and a safer environment for aid workers would surely entice many of them to return.

The country’s parliament on Monday elected Bangui mayor Catherine Samba-Panza as president, the third head of state in just three weeks, but only time will tell if her appointment brings the stability necessary for the nation to overcome a massive crisis with over half a million displaced people that seems to have no end in sight.

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    Carlos Santamaria

    As associate editor for breaking news, Carlos Santamaria supervises Devex's Manila-based news team and the creation of our daily newsletter. Carlos joined Devex after a decade working for international wire services Reuters, AP, Xinhua, EFE and Philippine social news network Rappler in Madrid, Beijing, Manila, New York and Bangkok. During that time, he also covered natural disasters on the ground in Myanmar and Japan.