11 February 2015 – Grass-roots involvement and inclusion, especially of youth, is vital to rebuild war-torn Central African Republic (CAR), where unemployment is running at over 20 per cent, and more than 60 per cent of young people are living in extreme poverty, the top United Nations official responsible for Africa at the Organization’s development agency has stressed.
“The solution is youth: this country belongs to you, it is you who will have to build this nation,” said Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, the head of the Africa bureau at the UN Development Programme (UNDP) as he concluded a five-day official visit to the CAR.
Mr. Dieye addressed a group of young people to build a cultural and sports centre in the CAR capital of Bangui. A total of 1,000 young women and men will take part in the programme, receiving a salary and promoting dialogue in neighbourhoods across the capital, according to UNDP.
With an overall unemployment rate of 20.3 percent in 2010, the Central African Republic (CAR) is unlikely to reach its target of achieving full employment by 2015, UNDP said, citing the national UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) report, which noted that women and young people are particularly affected and the situation is likely to have worsened since the onset of the crisis.
And more than half of the country’s population, about 2.5 million people, is in need of humanitarian assistance, and more than 60 percent of the population continues to live in extreme poverty. In addition, ongoing sectarian violence has uprooted more than 850,000 people.
Mr. Dieye also said massive investments are required to bridge the social divide in CAR.
“Widespread poverty, inequality, exclusion and a weak State in a country with high economic potential: these are the ingredients of the crisis in the Central African Republic,” he concluded.
UNDP said the Government is pinning its hopes on the Forum of Bangui, a national gathering on reconciliation to be held in March. The event is widely expected to help restore peace and to forge a shared vision for the country, and it was preceded by a series of popular consultations organized throughout the country.
During his visit, Mr. Dieye met the Head of State, Catherine Samba-Panza, the Prime Minister, the President of the Transitional Parliament, government ministers, as well as the Head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the country (MINUSCA), Babacar Gaye.
He also met Dieudonné Kombo Yaya, the President of the National Electoral Authority, the body responsible for organizing a constitutional referendum, as well as general and presidential elections this year, and called on the international community to help fund the remaining gap.
“Just the same way that the West African region supported the elections in Guinea-Bissau, regional communities should support the…elections,” he said. The budget of the electoral assistance programme is $44 million and UNDP is managing its basket fund.
Working in close collaboration with the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSCA), UNDP’s priorities are social cohesion and community resilience; support for the transition – including the organization of elections – the fight against impunity and insecurity; and aid coordination.
The CAR transitional government has adopted a roadmap which prioritizes the political dialogue; national reconciliation; the organization of elections; support for the process of restoring peace and security; community recovery; and humanitarian assistance, according to UNDP.