Read caption Many challenges remain in the Central African Republic. Photo: NRC/Ingrid Prestetun

Avoid past mistakes

Tiril Skarstein|Published 26. May 2015
“There are some glimmers of hope in the Central African Republic, but the fundamental problems remain. We cannot repeat the mistake of pulling out too soon”, argued Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, Jan Egeland.

Speaking at an International Conference on the Central African Republic in Brussels, Egeland stressed the need for increased international support.

“It is not a good sign that only about 20% of the strategic response plan for the Central African Republic is funded. Much more money is needed from the donors to this country. We must learn from past mistakes, and invest in hope, development and justice”, he said.

Egeland also highlighted the need for long term commitment:

“We as the Norwegian Refugee Council have ourselves learned this lesson the hard way; in 2009 we had to close down our operations in CAR due to lack of financing, only to re-establish our presence as the needs became critical in 2014. This was a mistake by us and by our donors. And we will not do it again”.


Challenges

The signing of a disarmament deal by ten armed groups in the Central African Republic this month, is one of several small, but welcome steps in the right direction. Still, many challenges remain.

“The fundamental problems remain: Massive displacement, massive injustice, and massive inequality. Civilians, including our own humanitarian staff, are threatened, harassed and attacked. Killing, kidnapping and intimidation persist”, said Egeland.


Return

As of May 2015 there were an estimated 426,200 internally displaced people in the country, according to a new report from NRC’s Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre

Many of the displaced are trapped in dangerous environments, not being able to move freely. Many have suffered severe restrictions on their freedom of movement, particularly those living in so-called enclaves, which are surrounded by armed militias and mobs.

In addition there are 460.000 refugees from CAR in neighbouring countries.

“We urge the transitional government and the humanitarian country team to develop a comprehensive return strategy to ensure voluntary return, including possibilities for those who cannot return”, Egeland said.

Read also Egeland’s op-ed at Al Jazeera: "We cannot let down the Central African Republic Again"