Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


'Broke' UN agency pleads for help in CAR

17 April 2014, 12:53

Geneva - Inter-communal violence is tearing Central African Republic apart but the conflict is not getting the attention, or aid, needed to save huge numbers of lives, the head of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Wednesday.

At least 200 000 people have fled the country since December, and a further 160 000 are expected to this year. The UNHCR says it is spending cash there three times as fast as new funds are coming in, putting its mission in jeopardy.

"Indeed, we are in trouble," the UNHCR chief Antonio Guterres told diplomats as he launched a $274m appeal.

Central African Republic is only one crisis among many demanding the UN funds stretched by humanitarian needs in South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen, as well as natural disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, and above all, Syria.

"Obviously there's no way we will be able to sustain this until the end of the year," Guterres told the diplomats. "At a certain moment we will be simply broke."

Central African Republic's government fell a year ago to Muslim Seleka rebels who were routed in December by Christian militia forces, unleashing anarchy and ethnic cleansing.

"When you start cutting people into pieces and roasting them," Guterres told reporters, "It's not an army against an army - it's people doing horrible things to their neighbours."

But the crisis has no major economic or strategic repercussions beyond the country's immediate neighbours, he said, so it gets little attention from the outside world.

"People do not feel threatened. People feel threatened with Syria, people feel threatened with Ukraine and what might happen. Even Somalia. But in relation to the Central African Republic people don't feel threatened, don't know where it is, it's very difficult, they've never heard about it."


Diplomats at the meeting were effusive in their support but only Japan's ambassador pledged actual financial aid, and even he admitted to being not well informed on the subject.

"What I heard today is much more dramatic than I had imagined before I came to this chamber," Ambassador Takashi Okada said.

The UN appeal included a gallery of photographs of wounded and malnourished refugees arriving in Cameroon, but the official chairing the meeting said they were too "heart-wrenching" to inflict on the diplomats, who were invited to stay behind afterwards if they wanted to view them. About half left.

Although the U.N. Security Council last week authorised the creation of a nearly 12 000-strong UN peacekeeping force, it is not due to be in place until mid-September.

William Lacy Swing, head of the International Organisation for Migration and a former US ambassador to Central African Republic, said the country could not wait, and the current French and African Union forces were not big enough.

"The number 1 priority is to stop the fighting. You will not arrive at that without the [UN] blue helmets," said Swing. "Unfortunately September's a long time away. A lot of people are going to die before that force can be assembled and deployed."

The first priority had to be to secure the capital Bangui, creating "zones of peace" to bring people out of 70 or more "spontaneous settlements around town where people are hunkered down hoping to avoid being killed", he said.

- Reuters


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Eugene Odanga
WATCH: Kaka Sungura arrested in t...

Was Kaka Sungura arrested in town?

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Confused Jubilee afraid of me, Ki...

The Jubilee Party is afraid of me, Evans Kidero says. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Sonko ready for Peter Kenneth bat...

Nairobi Senator Mike Mbuvi Sonko says that he is ready to take on Peter Kenneth in Nairobi Gubernatorial nominations come 2017. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Uhuru wants change in Constitutio...

The Jubilee Coalition is planning to change the Constitution and add President Uhuru Kenyatta another term, Kalonzo Musyoka claims. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
CORD to stop Jubilee efforts to r...

The CORD Coalition will not allow plans to remove Kenya from the Rome Statutes take place, it has said. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
How long will it take Kenya to le...

Kenya is looking to leave the ICC. But what is the process behind the exit? Read more...