By Vatican News staff writer
The UN mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) on Monday announced the arrival of the first convoy of humanitarian aid to Bangui, since the blockade of the capital by rebels 50 days ago.
Announcing the development with a post on its Twitter account, MINUSCA said its air and road escort enabled the delivery of the humanitarian aid from the Beloko border post to the CAR capital.
On 19 December, armed groups which occupy large territories of the country launched an offensive on the capital, cutting off a key highway, leaving many trucks stranded at the border with neighboring Cameroon.
As the country is completely landlocked in the heart of the continent, roads are essential for a significant percentage of CAR’s imports, including food and other supplies. The offensive by the armed groups forced over 200,000 civilians to flee and brought parts of the country to a standstill, stalling flows of food and driving up prices of some basic commodities.
The Central African Republic has been ravaged by violence since the 2013 ouster of President François Bozizé by a coalition of armed groups. After a two-year transition led by a temporary government, the CAR returned to constitutional democracy with the election of President Faustin-Archange Touadéra in 2016. In the following years, efforts to restore stability continued and a 2019 peace deal between armed factions in the country went some way toward curbing the violence.
The latest crisis in the country was sparked by a court decision in early December to bar former President François Bozizé from running for office in the 27 December 2020 elections. The court justified its ruling on the basis that Bozizé is under UN sanctions and is subject to an international warrant for his alleged involvement in crimes during his tenure.
Following the announcement, armed groups launched attacks on several towns, causing hundreds of deaths, destruction to property and massive displacement of the population. The CAR requested additional military assistance from other countries to help quell the violence.
However, the violence further escalated since the announcement of incumbent President Faustin-Archange Touadéra’s victory at the December elections with 53.9% of the vote, enough to render a runoff unnecessary.
To meet the urgent needs of the CAR in 2021, humanitarian actors plan to assist 1.84 million people and they will need $444.7 million, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).