Foreign aid on hold amid instability in CAR

Rebels in northern Central African Republic in June 2007. Photo by: hdptcar / CC BY-SA

After Seleka rebels seized control of the Central African Republic, the new government was banking on foreign aid donors to help rebuild the country, one of the poorest in the continent.

The call so far has been ignored.

The European Union has put on hold development work for the meantime, and the United States is considering cutting off all development aid to CAR after the administration of President François Bozize was overthrown almost a week ago.

Aid ‘de facto’ on hold EU

“Under [the] current security conditions, the implementation of our development cooperation is currently ‘de facto’ on hold,” said European Commission spokesperson for development Alexandre Polack.

“For the time being, no action on the development front can be taken and therefore, no payment is made in favor of the authorities,” he told Devex.

From 2008 to 2013, the EU had already allocated €160 million ($205 million) of the projected €210 million allotment.

Polack explained that there is no ongoing budget support to the Central African Republic’s government, but Brussels has earmarked €34 million for direct aid.

The EU decided to freeze development work for now while most of the Central African Republic remains inaccessible to humanitarian agencies and after two-thirds of of the EU’s expat staff were repatriated following the violence of the past weeks.

Polack stressed that the new government spearheaded by former Seleka rebel leader and now President Michel Djotodia is “not functioning.”

“In this environment, one can easily understand that our development work has slowed down, to an almost ‘de facto’ standstill,” Polack said.

“The resumption of our development cooperation will depend on the political and security environment,” he added.

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton had earlier denounced the power grab by the Seleka rebels.

“Violent or unconstitutional changes of government remain unacceptable,” Ashton said in a statement.

New government not recognized

At the meeting of Economic Community of Central African States on Wednesday, leaders refused to recognize Djotodia’s government and called for the creation of a “transitional body” to guide the conflict-ravaged country to free and fair elections.

Djotodia’s self-appointment as president is also questioned by Washington, which is reviewing whether or not to cut development aid to the country under its new rulers.

“We are looking very carefully now at the nonhumanitarian aspects of our assistance program with the Central African Republic with an eye towards cutting off those things that would be appropriate in this circumstance,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said in her regular press briefing on Tuesday.

In 2012, the United States spent $28.6 million on aid to the country, of which $22.8 million funded humanitarian assistance programs, according to Nuland.

Both Brussels and Washington insisted they would continue extending humanitarian assistance to the Central African Republic in spite of the political situation.

So far only $23 million of the $129 million appealed for the country by various groups has been committed, the latest data from U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs show.

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About the author

  • Alliage profile

    John Alliage Morales

    As a staff writer, John Alliage Morales covers the Americas, focusing on the world's top donor hub, Washington, and its aid community - from Capitol Hill to Dupont Circle, Foggy Bottom to the downtown headquarters of USAID, the World Bank and Millennium Challenge Corp. Prior to joining Devex, Alliage worked for a variety of news outlets including GMA, the Philippine TV network, where he conducted interviews, analyzed data and produced in-depth stories on development and other topics.