Central African Republic: a forgotten country
According to the UNICEF report 'Crisis in the Central African Republic', 43 000 children are severely malnourished. In total, two out of three children in the country are in need of humanitarian aid, that is one and a half million, and that figure continues to rise. The Central African Republic ranks last in the Global Hunger Index, behind Chad and Yemen.
In order to tackle some of these harrowing problems, the Brothers of Charity are active in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR). They provide community based psychosocial care for children with post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) and psychosocial care and guidance for prisoners.
Violence and trauma
Decades of political instability, natural disasters and violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) have resulted in the destruction of the national economy, the weakening and almost total implosion of state institutions with disastrous consequences for the impoverished and highly traumatised population.
The precarious situation in CAR took an even more dramatic turn after the coup d'état in March 2013, when the conflict escalated into unprecedented violence between armed groups. Even after a new electoral cycle in 2016 and a new government, the overall security situation remained extremely precarious. In 2018, the violence flared up again in all its intensity.
The weakest - the children - are the first to suffer, as you can see in the pictures below.
Shocking lack of mental health care
The WHO describes the catastrophic state of mental health care in CAR in 2017 as follows: “24 beds, 2 psychologists, 2 nurses, 1 social worker, 1 part-time doctor: all mental health care in Central African Republic” - Dr. Kette, Coordinator of Mental Health Care CAR.
The response of the Brothers of Charity
1. Community-based psychosocial care for children with PTSD in Bangui
In the same region of Bangui, where the lack of mental health care (as in the whole of CAR) is particularly distressing, the Brothers of Charity - with financial support from the King Baudouin Foundation and the Grauls Fund (Belgium) - started in 2015 an outpatient psychiatric clinic with a focus on children and adolescents with post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). This is the first phase in a broader plan for the organisational development and anchoring of professional mental health care in CAR.