Georgieva reaches out to the ‘country that the world forgot’

Commissioner Georgieva in action. [European Commission]

The Central African Republic is a “country that the world forgot” and could become “a second Somalia” without additional support, EU Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva said, pledging 15% of her budget to overlooked crises.

Georgieva on Tuesday (23 July) said the Central African Republic, or CAR, was in “complete chaos” while adding that Niger, northern Mali and Sudan’s Darfur region were also plagued by lawlessness.

Some 91% of the humanitarian disasters occur off the radar screen, she said, saying that millions of people suffered and hundreds of thousands were dying in overlooked conflict areas with little attention for the outside world.

“I am taking this very personally,” Georgieva told journalists in Brussels, pledging 15% of her the humanitarian budget to “forgotten crises”.

Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs has agreed that foreign aid funds also would be dedicated to such areas, she added.

Georgieva said she was committed to helping the CAR, a former French colony of 4.5 million people, where she visited earlier this month.

“This is the most forgotten country in the world. The most miserable, the most in need for help, and the one which receives the least,” she said.

“I was in a city in the centre of the country, Kaga-Bandoro, a so-called city with a population of 26,000. We landed with a small airplane on something that was not even a road,” she recalled.

The power generator at the local hospital had been stolen by bandits, medical equipment and medications were missing, and the beds had no mattresses. Patients wondered the hospital looking for food.

In the capital Bangui, she said half the population has no latrines.

The question that everyone asked her, she said, was “Why the world forgot us?”

A new Somalia?

Georgieva, who met with the country’s president and prime minister, saw the risk of the CAR becoming “the new Somalia.”

“Local warlords are fixing the amount of taxes, while the central government is non-existent. I saw nothing that resembles statehood,” she said.

But she added that she would visit the CAR again before the end of her term in the autumn of 2014.

Asked to name other forgotten zones, Georgieva mentioned the northern part of Mali and Darfur. She problems in Libya have gotten little media attention since the headline-making ouster of Muammar Gaddafi two years ago.

Chad, in contrast, has overcome past inter-communal troubles and has become relatively stable, she said, but added that this stability was fragile because of the risk of spillover conflicts from neighbours that include the CAR and Sudan.

The EU and its international partners have been able to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in Sahel, but Georgieva said the region should remain a long-term priority because it is prone to cycles of hunger and conflict.

The Global Alliance for Resilience Initiative (AGIR) was launched on 6 December 2012 in Ouagadougou. In a Joint Statement outlining the principles, priorities and next steps of the alliance, stakeholders fixed themselves the objective zero hunger within the 20 years.

Among the next steps for 2013 are establishing working groups, developing a monitoring mechanism, identification of some immediate actions, as well as the promotion of the AGIR initiative, including in the target countries.

The countries in the Sahel that are primarily concerned are Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad.

Kristalina Georgieva’s blog: A crisis we must not forget

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