Bitter sectarian violence continues in the Central African Republic. More than a year of conflict has killed thousands of people, displaced a million civilians and led many Muslims to abandon their homes to seek safety in villages closer to Muslim-dominated Sudan and Chad in the north. Most recently, dozens of people were killed in the town of Bambari in an attack by anti-Balaka militia followed by reprisals by Muslim youths.
Throughout the conflict, the United States has responded to address the resulting humanitarian crisis. With more than half the nation’s population in need of aid, and nearly 140,000 living as refugees in neighboring countries, the United States is deeply committed to ending the human suffering. Toward this end, nearly $51 million in additional assistance has been provided for Central African Republic relief, bringing total U.S. humanitarian aid to nearly $118 million this year.
The newly announced funds will provide clean water, food, emergency health services and relief supplies. Funding will also help support programs to assist displaced persons and reunite them with their families and surviving caregivers, where possible. With rape, assault and extreme acts of cruelty against innocent men, women and children being committed every day, increased funding will also support counseling and other services for survivors of gender-based violence.
The humanitarian needs in the Central African Republic are enormous, however, and cannot be met by a few donor nations alone. The international community can and must do more to provide assistance to help end the crisis. The Central African Republic’s neighbors have welcomed nearly 140,000 refugees since December, and other nations must contribute. Significant resources are needed to save lives and alleviate suffering.