New refugee outflows follow new violence in Central African Republic

Briefing Notes, 16 April 2013

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 16 April 2013, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Fighting this past weekend in the Central African Republic capital Bangui has seen further outflows of refugees into surrounding countries. In all, and from the recent instability in CAR, there are now well over 30,000 CAR refugees in Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as some 1024 new refugees in Cameroon, and 6728 in Chad.

New refugees in DRC have told us that Seleka forces opened fire on Bangui residents resisting or protesting against looting and abuses happening during the course of disarmament operations. Young males, who make up around 80 percent of the refugees who crossed this past weekend, have been particularly affected.

In DRC, 1,200 CAR refugees arrived between Saturday and Monday. And the influx continues. The new arrivals are mostly hosted by the local population but some have also found their way to Worobe camp, across the river from CAR and located 19 km to the east of Zongo. Those in Worobe crossed by boat to Zongo and walked to the camp which now hosts 3707 refugees, up from 2000 before the weekend. Others are in the villages or staying in public buildings. UNHCR provided all new arrivals with warm meals and is working to move all of them to the camp.

It is of urgent importance that the Seleka authorities put an end to violence against civilians and restore security in Bangui and the rest of the country. This is necessary both to stem the outflow, and to allow for resumption of critical humanitarian operations inside the country. Inside CAR, we estimate that there are 173,000 internally displaced people. In addition to this there are 17,000 mostly Congolese and Sudanese refugees in CAR, plus some 4,000 new Darfur refugees who crossed into northern CAR ten days ago following tribal clashes in the Um Dukhun area of Western Darfur.

For further information on this topic, please contact:

  • In the region (on mission), Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba on mobile +41 79 249 34 83
  • In Geneva, Adrian Edwards on mobile +41 79 557 91 20
• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

Central African Republic: Urgent Appeal

You can help save the lives of thousands of refugees

Donate to this crisis

CAR Crisis: Urgent Appeal

Make a gift now to help protect and assist those fleeing violence in Central African Republic.

Donate to this crisis

DR Congo Crisis: Urgent Appeal

Intense fighting has forced more than 64,000 Congolese to flee the country in recent months.

Donate to this crisis

Victims of Conflict in Nigeria Find Safety in Cameroon Camp

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres visited Cameroon in late March to put a spotlight on the situation there of tens of thousands of refugees from Nigeria. These people have escaped mounting violence by insurgents in the north-east of their country. Among the places that Guterres visited during his March 24-25 visit is the Minawao Refugee Camp, where many of the uprooted have been relocated.

Situated some 120 kilometres from the dangerous border area with Nigeria in Cameroon's Far North region, Minawao camp is currently home to 33,000 Nigerian refugees, mainly from Borno state. Many of the arrivals are traumatized and in need of material and psycho-social help. They told the High Commissioner of losing their homes and belongings as well as members of their families. Some were injured. In total, an estimated 74,000 Nigerians have found refuge in Cameroon while cross-border incursions from Nigeria have displaced 96,000 Cameroonians. UNHCR photographer Hélène Caux also visited Minawao to hear the individual stories.

Victims of Conflict in Nigeria Find Safety in Cameroon Camp

Congolese Medics on Call For Refugees

Jean de Dieu, from the Central African Republic (CAR), was on his way to market in mid-January when he was shot. The 24-year-old shepherd and his family had fled their country two months earlier and sought refuge on an island in the Oubangui River belonging to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Sometimes Jean crossed back to check on his livestock, but last week his luck ran out when he went to take an animal to market. A few hours later, in an improvised operating room in Dula, a Congolese border town on the banks of the Oubangui, medics fight to save his life.

Jean's situation is not unique. Over the past two years, war in the Central African Republic has driven more than 850,000 people from their homes. Many have been attacked as they fled, or killed if they tried to return. In neighbouring DRC, medical resources are being stretched to their limits.

Photographer Brian Sokol, on assignment for UNHCR, captured the moment when Jean and others were rushed into the operating theatre. His images bear witness to desperation, grief, family unity and, ultimately, a struggle for survival.

Congolese Medics on Call For Refugees

Human Misery in Katanga Province's Triangle of Death

People in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Katanga province have long referred to the region between the towns of Manono, Mitwaba and Pweto as the "triangle of death." Despite the presence of UN peace-keepers and government military successes in other parts of the country, the situation in the resources-rich Katanga has been getting worse over the past two years. Conflict between a secessionist militia group and the government and between the Luba (Bantu) and Twa (Pygmy) ethnic groups has left thousands dead and forcibly displaced more than 400,000 people since 2012, including over 70,000 in the last three months. UNHCR has expressed its "deep concern" about the "catastrophic" humanitarian situation in northern Katanga. The violence includes widescale looting and burning of entire villages and human rights' violations such as murder, mass rape and other sexual violence, and the forced military recruitment of children.

The limited presence of humanitarian and development organizations is a serious problem, leading to insufficient assistance to displaced people who struggle to have access to basic services. There are 28 sites hosting the displaced in northern Katanga and many more displaced people live in host communities. While UNHCR has built some 1,500 emergency shelters since January, more is needed, including access to health care, potable water, food and education. The following striking photographs by Brian Sokol for UNHCR show some of the despair and suffering.

Human Misery in Katanga Province's Triangle of Death

Cameroon: Escape from NigeriaPlay video

Cameroon: Escape from Nigeria

Attacks by Nigerian insurgents have spread to neighbouring countries in recent months, severely restricting the 'humanitarian space' aid organisations, like UNHCR, can operate in to help people made homeless by the unrest. The insurgents have also recently mounted a series of suicide attacks in Cameroon - the first such attacks in the country.
Central African Republic: Displaced at HomePlay video

Central African Republic: Displaced at Home

The Central African Republic has been marred by conflict since December 2013, displacing more than 830,000 people. More than half are refugees. As a fragile peace begins to take hold, thousands of people are returning to CAR. Many, however, still face further displacement at home.
Cameroon: A Story of SurvivalPlay video

Cameroon: A Story of Survival

In Minawao camp, Cameroon, the memories of immense suffering are still haunting Nigerian refugees, even young children like Ibrahim.