18 March 2014, Geneva, Switzerland - The humanitarian crisis provoked by internal instability in CAR since last year continues to be of great concern to the international community while thousands of people face mounting violence and widespread killings. Humanitarian agencies are trying to help people in need but the environment is broadly hostile. A situation report released by OCHA states that: “acts of violence, lootings, carjacking and security incidents against aid workers and assets have multiplied in the past months jeopardizing ongoing life-saving operations”.  In one of the most recent incidents, one staff member of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was killed on duty.  In total eight aid workers have been killed so far by armed militias.

Since the early stages of the crisis, UNOSAT analysis has contributed to understanding the extent of the humanitarian consequences and to documenting the destruction of civilian infrastructures and the location of internally dispaced persons. Satellite analysis is a timely source of objective information, often revealing important clues in situations that cannot be monitored directly on the ground for lack of access or because of high security risk.

In the case of CAR, analysis of high-resolution imagery conducted by UNOSAT experts has confirmed a general increase in the destruction of civilian infrastructures especially in the area of Bangui and, more recently, in Bouar and Bossangoa and surrounding areas. In Bossangoa alone a total of 1,234 structures appear destroyed, likely as a result of burning.

UNOSAT say it will continue to acquire and interpret new imagery to help the humanitarian community plan their work under these difficult circumstances.

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Images: above, IDPs gathered at Bangui airport have been also monitored by UNOSAT using satellite imagery (photo courtesy of UN News Centre); below, one of the UNOSAT imagery comparisons revealing widespread destruction in urban areas (satellite imagery by Digital Globe).