The Rainforest Foundation UK, (RFUK) has taken concrete measures to protect the staff of la Maison de l’Enfant et de la Femme Pygmées (MEFP) – our main NGO partner in the Central African Republic, following several months of internal instability and crisis in the country.
RFUK has recently supported the evacuation of key MEFP staff to Cameroon, and supported other measures to help protect staff remaining in Bangui while the crisis is ongoing. RFUK is also taking measures to support MEFP to maintain its organisational planning in this period of crisis.
On 24 March 2013, following three months of tension, a coalition of rebel groups known as “Séléka” seized power in the CAR and overthrew the regime of President François Bozizé. Rebel leader Michel Djotodia was appointed Head of State of the Transition by the National Transitional Council on 13 April and officially sworn in on 18 August. This marked the start of an 18-month transition period at the end of which elections are due to be held.
The rebel takeover caused extreme insecurity across the country and violence, looting and serious human rights abuses have been widely reported since. On 5 December the UN Security Council finally adopted a UN Chapter VII resolution which authorised African Union and French troops to “take all necessary measures” to help stabilise the situation in the CAR. However, the months of December 2013 and January 2014 saw an escalation of violence in the CAR, with inter-sectarian killings between Muslims and Christians, inflaming the security and humanitarian crisis. It is estimated that 2.2 million people, half of the country’s population, require humanitarian assistance, and in the capital city Bangui alone, it is reported that half of the population has been displaced due to the conflict.
In January, President Djotodia and Prime Minister Tiangaye resigned, and the country's first female president, Catherine Samba-Panza, assumed the post of President of CAR ad interim. At the end of January the international community announced that it would mobilise US $500 million to fund humanitarian needs in the CAR, while Amnesty International reported “ethnic cleansing” of Muslims in the Western part of the country.
This crisis has had a devastating impact on RFUK’s main NGO partner in the CAR, the Maison de l’Enfant et de la Femme Pygmées (MEFP), both as an organisation and on its individual members and their families. In this context, RFUK has been forced to stop its activities in CAR for the time being.
“We have continued to monitor the situation in the CAR closely, and have taken a series of measures to mitigate the impact of the crisis on the project and to support local partner organisation MEFP,” said RFUK Head of Programmes, Francesca Thornberry.