Central African Republic (CAR) has been plagued by almost constant unrest in recent decades and remains one of the poorest countries in the world. For many of the country’s 4.5 million inhabitants, violence is an everyday threat. With numerous armed groups operating throughout CAR, internal displacement and refugee movements are common. Life expectancy is only 49, and just under half of the population are able to read.
In March 2013, a rebel coalition seized power in the Central African Republic’s capital city, Bangui, amid violence and widespread looting. Approximately 4.1 million people, almost half of whom are children, were directly affected by the crisis, and 1.2 million people were cut off from essential services. As of May 2014, an estimated 554,000 people have been displaced within CAR, while more than 346,000 Central Africans have fled to neighbouring countries.
In addition to internal violence, CAR is also surrounded by unstable neighbours – Chad, Darfur, South Sudan, and Democratic Republic of Congo. Refugees from these neighbouring countries reside in camps, primarily near the border. The weakness or absence of government security, health, education, and agricultural services has created a complex humanitarian emergency.
International Medical Corps works primarily in the insecure northern and eastern provinces of CAR, namely Haute-Kotto, Vakaga and most recently, Ouham in the northwest of CAR. Additionally, International Medical Corps is the main health provider in three refugee camps in Haut Mbomou, Ouaka and Lobaye. International Medical Corps provides curative and preventive consultations, maternal and child health care, child protection, therapeutic and supplementary nutrition services, HIV/AIDS prevention, health education, gender-based violence (GBV) prevention and response, and hygiene promotion activities to refugees and host communities. In other areas, we also support government health facilities with medicines and supplies, the provision of health care services, and the rehabilitation of health posts.
To help those most in need, International Medical Corps operates mobile medical units that travel – sometimes up to three days by motorbike – throughout the country to offer vital health care services to the country’s most isolated villages.