DAKAR, May 5 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Four
international aid agencies have temporarily suspended their
operations in northern Central African Republic due to attacks
on aid workers by armed groups, the United Nations said on
In the conflict-torn country's Ouham region, aid workers
have been attacked on 16 occasions since March, said the U.N.
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Solidarités International, Intersos, Danish Church Aid, and
Person in Need Relief Mission will withdraw their staff to the
capital, Bangui, while other aid groups have decided to scale
back to focus only on life-saving operations, according to OCHA.
"It is one of the most dangerous and difficult countries for
humanitarian work, particularly in the northern prefecture of
Ouham," OCHA spokesman Jens Laerke said, adding that there had
been a recent concentration of attacks against aid workers.
"This temporary withdrawal will certainly have an impact on
many people who depend on aid," he told a news briefing in
Central African Republic has been plagued by conflict since
March 2013, when mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power,
triggering reprisals by Christian "anti-balaka" militias.
The Seleka and other groups have since splintered, prompting
further violence despite the election in March 2016 of President
Faustin-Archange Touadera, which raised hopes of reconciliation.
Around 425,000 people have been uprooted by the fighting
within the Central African Republic, some 465,000 have fled to
neighbouring countries, and more than 2.2 million, nearly half
the population, need humanitarian aid, according to OCHA.
The lives of more than one million children are under threat
amid a lack of funding, said the U.N. children's fund (UNICEF).
More than 40 percent of children are suffering from chronic
malnutrition, one in seven will die before they turn five, and a
third are out of school, according to figures from UNICEF.
The country's humanitarian response plan for 2017 has only
been 12 percent funded - $47 million of a requested $400 million
- to date, the U.N.'s Financial Tracking Service (FTS) shows.
"We cannot allow the Central African Republic to become a
forgotten crisis," Christine Muhigana, UNICEF representative in
the Central African Republic, said in a statement.
(Reporting By Kieran Guilbert, Additional Reporting by
Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva, Editing by Ros Russell; Please
credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of
Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights,
trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience.