BANGUI (Reuters) - The European Union is to increase its aid to Central African Republic to tackle a humanitarian crisis gripping the impoverished nation since rebels seized power in March.
The toppling of former president Francois Bozize by the Seleka rebel coalition plunged the former French colony into chaos. Interim president Michel Djotodia, Seleka's leader, has failed to establish security even in Bangui and humanitarian groups have pulled back many of their staff.
Kristalina Georgieva, the EU Commissioner responsible for international cooperation and humanitarian aid, said on Thursday Europe would provide an additional $8 million, bringing its total aid since the start of the year to $20 million.
"The whole country, more than 4 million people, is hit by the current crisis and suffering looting and human rights violations," Georgieva said during a visit to the crumbling riverside capital Bangui.
"I call on our international partners in humanitarian aid and development to redouble their efforts to end the suffering of the population of Central African Republic."
Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontiers accused the international community this week of turning its back on the mineral-rich nation, which has been devastated by more than a decade of sporadic violence.
Four months after rebels seized Bangui, government and health services across the country are close to collapse and armed groups terrorize civilians, the charity said. Looting and attacks are commonplace within Bangui.
Since December, conflict has displaced some 206,000 people within Central African Republic and pushed 55,000 refugees across its borders into neighboring states, Georgieva said.
Valerie Amos, deputy U.N. security general in charge of humanitarian affairs who accompanied Georgieva on the trip, said 1.6 million people there were at risk of malnutrition.
She said the EU donation would be spent on food and medical supplies, clean water and hygiene.
The country bordering Chad, Sudan and four other countries in the heart of the continent has been plagued by unrest and poverty since its independence from France in 1960, despite deposits of gold, diamonds, uranium and oil.
It has the second-lowest life expectancy in the world, at just 48 years.
(Writing by Daniel Flynn; Editing by Alison Williams)