Search form

Three women and two children from CAR sit around a fireplace in a camp for displaced people.
Forgotten crisis

Central African Republic Crisis Watch

In Central African Republic (CAR), 1 million people have been displaced by ongoing conflict. The International Rescue Committee has assisted CAR throughout its current crisis despite the high risk to aid workers. We provide medical care, water and sanitation services, and protection for vulnerable women and girls.

What's happening

  • Over 200,000 people have already been displaced as violence escalates in Central African Republic.

  • Some 40% of the population is already in need of food aid, which is being hindered by attacks on aid workers and closure of a supply route to the capital, Bangui.

  • The IRC calls for all parties to uphold international humanitarian law, commit to de-escalating the crisis and provide essential access to blocked supply routes.

Read our Feb. 1 statement
Country facts
  • Population: 4.7 million
  • People displaced by crisis: Internally displaced, 630,834; refugees from CAR displaced in the region is 634,788
  • Rank in Human Development Index: 187 of 188 countries
IRC response
  • Started work in CAR: 2006

CAR crisis briefing

Central African Republic, a landlocked country, has struggled with violence and political instability for decades. The IRC provides critical assistance to Central Africans and helps lay the groundwork for strong, healthy and safe communities.

See all

What caused the current crisis in CAR?

Since gaining independence from France in 1960, Central African Republic (CAR) has endured decades of violence and political instability.

Following a four-year period of relative peace, sectarian violence between Muslim and Christian groups broke out in 2012. Millions were uprooted. Over 400,000 are now refugees in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo, Chad and Cameroon.

As the situation remains volatile, CAR’s future hangs in the balance.

Read our latest report.

What are the main humanitarian challenges in CAR?

About 2.7 million Central Africans, over half of the population, are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance.

Recurring violence and ineffective government has resulted in a lack of access to basic services and education. Health services are sparse. People do not have the economic opportunities to provide for themselves, let alone their families.

Poor infrastructure and attacks on aid workers, including kidnappings, further exacerbates the dire humanitarian situation.

How does the IRC help?

The IRC’s mission is to help people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover and gain control of their future. We first began assisting Central Africans in 2006 and remain in the country to aid conflict-affected and internally displaced communities.

As the situation in Central African Republic remains unstable and unpredictable, the IRC is focusing efforts in Bangui and Ombella M’Poko, Nana Gribizi, Ouham Pendé and La Kémo prefectures by:

  • providing emergency relief;
  • providing health care and psychosocial support to women survivors of violence;
  • distributing food and creating economic opportunities to displaced people and vulnerable groups such as women and young adults;
  • building and supporting schools and safe spaces for children to learn and play;
  • building and restoring clean water sources and promoting good hygiene practices.

What still needs to be done?

As the humanitarian and security situations in Central African Republic (CAR) remain volatile, the IRC seeks to continue programs in the communities most affected by crisis and conflict. Through our work, we put the needs of the most vulnerable, specifically women and girls, at the forefront of our efforts and to achieve measurable improvements in health, safety, economic wellbeing and empowerment.

To meet the primary needs of the population in CAR, the IRC will continue focusing on health, safety and economic wellbeing. Additionally, as a leader in gender-based violence prevention and response, we will focus on women’s empowerment and protection to narrow the gender gap and maximize our impact.

Through 2020, the IRC in CAR will concentrate on signature programming including:


We plan to expand our programs for women and girls by addressing harmful gender inequalities threatening their health.


The IRC will place specific focus on ensuring women and girls are equally safe from harm as men and boys. We will expand dialogues and workshops on gender-based violence to men and host peer mentorship programs for survivors of violence.

Economic wellbeing

The IRC will also work to ensure women and girls have access to the same economic opportunities as men and boys. To meet this goal, we will develop gender-responsive programming to help people generate income and assets in high-potential business and employment opportunities.

Additionally, through youth leadership programs for both girls and boys, we will seek to improve economic opportunities for young people by providing education and support. Specifically, safe spaces for women and girls will allow the exchange of ideas and improve access to economic opportunities.


Download the IRC's Central African Republic strategy action plan to learn more about our program priorities through 2020.

News and features