• Text size Normal size text | Increase text size by 10% | Increase text size by 20% | Increase text size by 30%

Central African Republic parliament approves refugee law

News Stories, 4 December 2007

© UNHCR/N.Rost
Sudanese refugees in Sam Ouandja refugee site in northeastern Central African Republic (CAR) earlier this year. The CAR parliament has passed a refugee law.

BANGUI, Central African Republic, December 4 (UNHCR) Legislators in the Central African Republic (CAR) have unanimously approved a new law guaranteeing refugees protection and many other fundamental rights.

The National Assembly adopted the Law on the Status of Refugees last Thursday, some six months after the draft was given a green light by the government's Council of Ministers.

The law must now be signed by President François Bozizé to come into force. CAR has ratified several international instruments pertaining to refugee matters, but it has lacked the domestic legislation needed to meet its obligations. Refugee issues have been dealt with through decrees and ordinances.

The law guarantees people fleeing conflict and persecution the right to enter CAR territory, to apply for asylum and to be recognized as refugees if they fulfil the definitions contained in the 1951 Refugee Convention or the 1969 Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa. It also establishes an appeals commission to re-examine the cases of people who have been denied refugee status in the first instance.

In addition, the law guarantees people seeking refuge in CAR the fundamental rights elaborated in international refugee law. This means that refugees will have most of the same rights enjoyed by CAR citizens, including the rights to employment, to freedom of association, to social assistance, to health services, to education and to freedom of movement and residency.

Under the new legislation, refugees cannot be expelled from the CAR or sent forcibly to a country where their life or liberty could be at threat.

"Since independence, the government and people of CAR have shown generous hospitality towards refugees, welcoming men, women and children seeking protection as a result of conflict or persecution. The adoption of a national refugee law formalizes this liberal asylum policy," said Bruno Geddo, UNHCR representative in Bangui.

With the arrival earlier this year of 2,700 refugees from the Darfur region in Sudan, there are now some 9,000 refugees living in CAR, including some 2,000 Congolese. Some 80,000 Central Africans have fled conflict-affected areas in the country's north to neighbouring countries. An estimated 220,000 civilians are displaced within CAR.

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

UNHCR country pages

Central African Republic: Urgent Appeal

You can help save the lives of thousands of refugees

Donate to this crisis

People with disabilities

Between 2.3 and 3.3 million of the world's forcibly displaced people live with disabilities, one third of them children.

Capacity Building

Helping national authorities meet their obligations to the uprooted.

Livelihoods and Self-Reliance

We help refugees, refugee returnees and internally displaced people tap their potential and build a platform for a better future.

Crisis in the Central African Republic

Little has been reported about the humanitarian crisis in the northern part of the Central African Republic (CAR), where at least 295,000 people have been forced out of their homes since mid-2005. An estimated 197,000 are internally displaced, while 98,000 have fled to Chad, Cameroon or Sudan. They are the victims of fighting between rebel groups and government forces.

Many of the internally displaced live in the bush close to their villages. They build shelters from hay, grow vegetables and even start bush schools for their children. But access to clean water and health care remains a huge problem. Many children suffer from diarrhoea and malaria but their parents are too scared to take them to hospitals or clinics for treatment.

Cattle herders in northern CAR are menaced by the zaraguina, bandits who kidnap children for ransom. The villagers must sell off their livestock to pay.

Posted on 21 February 2008

Crisis in the Central African Republic

Battling the Elements in Chad

More than 180,000 Sudanese refugees have fled violence in Sudan's Darfur region, crossing the border to the remote desert of eastern Chad.

It is one of the most inhospitable environments UNHCR has ever had to work in. Vast distances, extremely poor road conditions, scorching daytime temperatures, sandstorms, the scarcity of vegetation and firewood, and severe shortages of drinkable water have been major challenges since the beginning of the operation. Now, heavy seasonal rains are falling, cutting off the few usable roads, flooding areas where refugees had set up makeshift shelters, and delaying the delivery of relief supplies.

Despite the enormous environmental challenges, UNHCR has so far managed to establish nine camps and relocate the vast majority of the refugees who are willing to move from the volatile border.

Battling the Elements in Chad

Southerners on the move before Sudanese vote

Ahead of South Sudan's landmark January 9, 2011 referendum on independence, tens of thousands of southern Sudanese in the North packed their belongings and made the long trek south. UNHCR set up way stations at key points along the route to provide food and shelter to the travellers during their arduous journey. Several reports of rapes and attacks on travellers reinforced the need for these reception centres, where women, children and people living with disabilities can spend the night. UNHCR has made contingency plans in the event of mass displacement after the vote, including the stockpiling of shelter and basic provisions for up to 50,000 people.

Southerners on the move before Sudanese vote

Joint Appeal: Help Needed for Central African RefugeesPlay video

Joint Appeal: Help Needed for Central African Refugees

The UN refugee agency and its partners appealed for more donor support to cope with the continuing outflow and deteriorating condition of refugees from the Central African Republic.
UNHCR's Dr. Paul Spiegel on the Border of CAR  and CameroonPlay video

UNHCR's Dr. Paul Spiegel on the Border of CAR and Cameroon

This video was shot by one of our staff* using a mobile phone as they helped refugees who had crossed the river to safety.
Central African Republic: Torn CommunitiesPlay video

Central African Republic: Torn Communities

For more than a year, inter-communal strife has displaced tens of thousands of people in the Central African Republic. But amid the violence, efforts are being made to promote reconciliation.