The Central African Republic is all but lawless, with just 200 police to guard those 4.6m people from rebel gangs who attack women, kill men and recruit children at will. Despite repeated warnings, the international community has done little, even as arms continue to flood into the country. In Bangui, the capital, convoys of gangs can be seen speeding through its suburbs and are blamed for looting and indiscriminate shootings. The country's infrastructure has been effectively demolished. Human rights groups say the justice system has been dismantled, the prisons destroyed. The army has been disbanded.
Malnutrition rates have skyrocketed and malaria cases have risen by 30% since the Seleka rebels assumed control of the country. Latest assessments reveal 484,000 people at risk of food insecurity, with more than 206,000 people displaced. Armed groups running amok in a state the size of France, free to plunder as they wish.
"There is nobody to help the population. There are no authorities, no militaries. When you resist, they kill you," Albert Vanbuel, Catholic bishop of Kaga-Bandoro, a town of 26,000. Even the sprawling UN compound 3km from the town has been looted, its food stores pillaged.
A plan was constructed to pay off fighters who agreed to disarm. UN officials told the security council that a lack of funding to complete the disarmament process could push the country "to the brink of disaster". Just two countries: Luxembourg offered £67,000 and Australia £134,000, despite £14.2m being required to complete the disarmament and reintegration process.
A UN request for £129m of aid received £40m. A recent Unicef emergency appeal outlined a need for £21m, but received under £6m.
Britain, along with the CAR's colonial owner France, is among those accused of neglecting the country. A Foreign Office source said he could not recall if a UK minister had ever visited the country. The British ambassador is based in Cameroon, 500 miles away. The UK cuts its annual aid to the republic from £2.7m to £1.29m two years ago.
Since 2005 the UK has been the fourth largest European exporter of arms to the CAR. Equally alarming is the role of Britain as the key supplier of arms to the increasingly unstable region of central Africa. Britain is Europe's largest arms exporter to Uganda and the third largest to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, both CAR neighbours. Britain is the fourth largest supplier of arms to Chad and the second largest to Sudan, both officially classified as "countries of concern" by the Foreign Office. Almost £670,000 of mainly tanks and vehicles have been sent to Chad, while the UK government last year approved £7.6m of military export licences to Sudan including weapon sight mounts. The UK has emerged as the second largest exporter of arms to the volatile, embryonic state of South Sudan – and its sole supplier of explosive devices.