Responding in conflict-stricken Central African Republic
For the five million people who live in Central African Republic (CAR), widespread fighting has become a common feature of everyday life.
Although the situation improved after the civil war that ravaged the country in 2013-2014, conflict sadly resumed in 2016. Today, despite the presence of a UN peacekeeping mission, several different armed groups control around 70% of the country.
The conflict has led to mass displacement: more than 25% of the population have been uprooted from their homes and a staggering 50% of all people living in the country will require humanitarian assistance in 2018. Alarmingly, CAR is just one of several countries in the region struggling with growing humanitarian needs, including lack of access to healthcare.
International Medical Corps has provided humanitarian assistance in CAR since 2007. Focusing on remote underserved areas such as IDP camps, the organisation provides emergency medical care, performs surgeries for victims of conflict as well as screens for and treats acute malnutrition.
Recently, when International Medical Corps’ Community Health Workers were carrying out so-called ‘active screening’ in an IDP camp close to Bambari, a town lying on the Ouaka River, they met four-year-old Christian and his family.
Like so many other people in CAR, Christian's family relies entirely on farming to make a living, so when they were forced to leave their home because of the conflict, their source of income also disappeared. When the team examined Christian, they quickly understood that he suffered from severe acute malnutrition. Caused by insufficient nutrition, the potentially life-threatening condition is directly or indirectly responsible for 35% of all deaths of children under the age of five.
After receiving treatment at a nearby hospital, Christian was referred to an outpatient nutrition program operated by International Medical Corps and funded by funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO). Thanks to the funding, Christian's parents could also receive training on how to prevent malnutrition and protect their family from other life-threatening conditions in the future.
Speaking to International Medical Corps’ team on the ground, Christian's father said: