New UN programme aims to help Central African Republic communities

Mar 18, 2014

The United Nations development agency today launched an initiative to promote peace-building and social cohesion among the Central African Republic's (CAR) strife-riven communities, while also urging donors to fill a $22 million gap to ensure the project fulfills its objectives.

"The program aims to help rebuild the social fabric in the Central African Republic, by reducing vulnerabilities in the social, economic and security spheres," said Kaarina Immonen, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative in the capital, Bangui, which has been the scene of inter-communal clashes in recent months, and where the plan was launched.

"It will build a bridge between the dire humanitarian situation facing the country and efforts to build peace, community resilience and long-term development," Ms. Immonen added.

The two-year, $26 million initiative involves a series of cash for work and social cohesion activities to aid more than 350,000 people in the centre and western parts of the country.

In the districts of Bangui, Ouham, Ouham-Pendé, Nana-Gribizi and upper Kotto, UNDP will help initiate public works programmes to create temporary jobs to repair damaged infrastructure, such as water reservoirs, sewers, bridges and local clinics.

It would also help the earning potential of marginalized groups, such as women, through vocational training, and connect them with mayors and local administrations to strengthen their decision-making. The agency said it would also conduct awareness-raising campaigns through seminars, public discussions and the media, on such issues as human rights, drug abuse and sexual and gender-based violence.

"By bringing together members of communities from different religious or ethnic background, half of whom are young people, the programme expects to help heal differences, improve overall security," UNDP said. The conflict in CAR erupted when mainly Muslim Séléka rebels launched attacks in December 2012 and has taken on increasingly sectarian overtones as mainly Christian militias known as anti-Balaka (anti-machete) have taken up arms.

In addition to thousands of civilians believed to have been killed, more than 700,000 people inside the country have been displaced, and over 288,000 forced to flee to neighbouring Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo.

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