After armed Seleka rebels overthrew the government in 2013, the Central African Republic (CAR) – already one of the world’s poorest nations - devolved into a scene of chaos and terror. Marauding bands of Seleka and anti-balaka soldiers swept across the country massacring innocent civilians, pillaging, and destroying homes. Nearly one million people, half of them from the capital of Bangui, fled to overcrowded refugee camps lacking clean water and adequate sanitation facilities. As the rainy season began, refugees found themselves exposed to turbulent weather - dangerous gusts of wind and heavy downpours. To make matters worse, overflowing latrines, puddles of dirty water, and piles of trash fostered the ideal setting for an outbreak of malaria and typhoid fever.
Despite the dire situation, all hope is not lost. There continues to be an opportunity to positively influence the course of action in CAR. And that’s where you come in.
Thanks to your support, Mercy Corps has launched an emergency response to assist and protect those impacted by the conflict. Immediately after the coup, Mercy Corps refocused existing programs in CAR to prioritize urgent needs, with an emphasis on providing safe spaces for children, preventing gender-based violence, and raising awareness about hygiene. At the most populous refugee camp, Mercy Corps is overseeing the construction of 100 latrines and draining channels for stagnant water. In the coming weeks, Mercy Corps plans to distribute clean water and soap to 25,000 people, as well as continue to educate refugees about good hygiene practice. Finally, Mercy Corps continues to prioritize work around gender-based violence and listening centers remain open to provide emotional support, legal counseling and medical referrals to those who have suffered gender-based violence or sectarian attacks.
Saving and Improving Lives in the World’s Toughest Places: When you donate to Mercy Corps, you make it possible to deliver emergency food and supplies, and help families and communities become more resilient to crises long-term. In CAR, your donation helps protect vulnerable survivors, meet their basic needs for water and food, and provides the nation’s residents with hope that, one day, they can live in comfort and safety.
Change is not possible without you. Thank you for being a partner in this life-changing work.
You can continue to make a difference by:
A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to travel to Niger with Mercy Corps, and I wanted to send you an update on the situation people are facing there right now and the support they are receiving because of your generosity.
I spent two days visiting villages in Ouallam, a region in western Niger that was at the epicenter of the food crisis in 2012. Unfortunately, drought returned again this past fall, and the vast fields of millet, their staple crop, barely grew. It is brown and dry and empty as far as you can see. In Tolkoboye Fondobon village, the women told me that most households only have enough food to eat one meal a day until the next harvest in September.
But they were also eager to show me their new sources of hope and pride — the goats they received from Mercy Corps and the savings they have accumulated in the village savings and loans groups we helped them form. Both of these assets will allow the women to buy food in the market when they need it most this lean season. It's the first time in many of their lives that they've had the resources to help their families themselves.
These women struggle just to eat every day, but they are so strong. I spent some time with one woman named Santou. I was so happy to see that the two goats that Mercy Corps gave her over a year ago have now turned into five. Though she worries about the bad harvest, she is focused on her animals and what they can provide with her hard work — an income that is not dependent on the unpredictable rain.
That's what I saw over and over throughout my visit — communities asking for the opportunity to work hard to help themselves. And a team who is dedicated to finding the solutions that work best in these harsh conditions. I hope you will accept my sincerest thanks for your support on behalf of families in the Sahel. This is another difficult time in Niger, but without you, Mercy Corps would not be able to help families through it.
The numbers are staggering. More than one million Syrian children have been forced to flee their war-torn country. Of these young refugees, one in every three is between the ages of 12 and 18.
This is the generation that will be tasked with rebuilding Syria. And yet, according to UNICEF, 68 percent of young refugees are not able to attend school due to social, legal or economic barriers. Because of this, they are consistently missing out on critical life milestones like building social skills, developing confidence and getting an education.
Young refugees need your help now to ensure they do not become a lost generation.
Because of your donations to date, Mercy Corps has delivered lifesaving relief to more than 2.5 million refugees. Because of you, more families have food to eat, clean water to drink and a place to sleep at night. And because of you, young refugees have access to safe spaces and important activities to help them process and heal from the trauma they have experienced.
Right now, Mercy Corps is working with young refugees to engage them in community projects and creative activities that allow them to express themselves and develop positive life skills. Helping long-term refugees move forward with their lives requires long-term thinking. In addition to responding to urgent needs, we are focused on helping this generation of young people recover from trauma and look towards a productive future.
Watch these powerful videos made by four young refugees living in central Lebanon. Hear their stories, in their own words – stories of fleeing their homes in search of safety and their hopes for the future. You can continue to make a difference by: