Central African Republic
The Central African Republic (CAR) is unknown to most of the world. Landlocked, with unsecured borders and with limited international trade, the country has not been able to develop its potential, despite having a wealth of natural resources and large amounts of arable land. CAR is currently ranked 179th of 189 countries on the United Nations Development Program's (UNDP) Human Development Index. Average life expectancy at birth is only 48.4 years. And even those children who do reach their fifth birthday have little chance of seeing the inside of a classroom or a functioning health center. Sustainable economic opportunities are scarce; even with access to a livelihood, insecurity and impassable roads reduce national commerce to a trickle.
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|Population:||5,057,208 (July 2012 est.)|
|Size:||240,535 sq mi; slightly smaller than Texas|
|People Served:||144,182 (2012 est.)|
Catholic Relief Services' activities in the Central African Republic (CAR) initially focused on helping Church partners build stable peace in the country. In March 1999, CRS supported a peace and justice project. Three years later, CRS provided technical and financial support to the Church for the implementation of an Orphans and Vulnerable Children project. Beginning in 2006; however, the situation in CAR deteriorated. Fighting between the national army and other armed groups, as well as increased banditry and rebel activity, displaced tens of thousands of households in the northwest and north central areas of the country, and the northeast, where there was spillover from conflicts in Sudan and Chad. In response, CRS opened an office in CAR's capital, Bangui, in April 2007, to contribute to the humanitarian effort through emergency distributions to internally displaced people in the northwest.
More recently, CRS has worked in partnership with the Church and other international and national non-governmental organizations to implement early recovery and development activities, with a focus on food security, HIV and AIDS awareness, orphans and vulnerable children, health infrastructure rehabilitation, education, microfinance, peacebuilding, and community protection and resiliency.