Thousands displaced by fighting need urgent help in Central African Republic

News Stories, 26 September 2013

© UNHCR/P.Djerassem
A recently displaced woman receives aid items from UNHCR recently in Uganga, Central African Republic.

BANGUI, Central African Republic, September 26 (UNHCR) A humanitarian team dispatched to the Bossangoa area of Central African Republic (CAR) has found devastation and thousands of people in urgent need of assistance following the latest fighting in the troubled region.

"We found people in desperate need of assistance, such as food, water, shelter and medical care. They have no food and are sleeping under trees in this rainy season," said Jean-Claude Ndanga, a UNHCR field associate in CAR who was part of the multi-agency team that returned from the area this week.

In Bossangoa itself, 300 kilometres north of the capital, Bangui, the team found some 5,000 displaced had sheltered in the Catholic church, a school and the sub- prefecture building. They were in dire need of food, shelter and water, with all three sites facing overcrowding and deteriorating sanitary conditions.

Clashes in the last two weeks between the former Seleka coalition and self-defence groups have forced more than 170,000 people many of them women and children to flee their villages in Ouham Pende Prefecture and seek safety in the town of Bossangoa. This was the latest fighting in an internal CAR conflict that has displaced nearly 400,000 people this year, according to United Nations figures.

"One of my sons was killed by armed men before my own eyes, and the other fled, where I don't know," said Kadjidja, a woman of about 50 who was at the Liberte school after running many kilometres from her village of Zere to Bossangoa. She was still wearing the single piece of cloth she had fled in and was sleeping on the ground because she had no mat or blanket.

During the visit to Bossangoa, staff from UNHCR and other organizations witnessed the widespread horror and destruction inflicted by the conflict. Some 400 people reportedly died in the latest clashes.

The fighting has desolated an area that once had an active economy. On a 165-kilometre stretch of road, the inter-agency mission didn't pass a single other vehicle or bicycle.

"The villages of Togbo, Ndow Kette and Gbakata that we passed were totally burnt, looted and deserted. Only some stray domestic animals are still visible," Ndanga said. Insecurity made it impossible for UNHCR and other agencies to reach areas above Bossangoa, but villagers reported thousands of newly displaced.

Following the mission to the area, UNHCR and other agencies are coordinating plans to deliver immediate aid to the displaced. The UN refugee agency is providing non-food items such as tarpaulins, blankets, sleeping mats, mosquito nets, jerry cans, buckets and soap.

Last week, UNHCR distributed items to some 2,500 newly displaced in Paoua, 140 kilometers from Bossangoa, and now the agency will provide aid to the 5,000 internally displaced people in Bossangoa

By Djerassem Mbaiorem in Bangui, Central African Republic




UNHCR country pages

Internally Displaced People

The internally displaced seek safety in other parts of their country, where they need help.

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

Related Internet Links

UNHCR is not responsible for the content and availability of external internet sites

Displaced in North Kivu: A Life on the Run

Fighting rages on in various parts of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with seemingly no end in sight for hundreds of thousands of Congolese forced to flee violence and instability over the past two years. The ebb and flow of conflict has left many people constantly on the move, while many families have been separated. At least 1 million people are displaced in North Kivu, the hardest hit province. After years of conflict, more than 1,000 people still die every day - mostly of hunger and treatable diseases. In some areas, two out of three women have been raped. Abductions persist and children are forcefully recruited to fight. Outbreaks of cholera and other diseases have increased as the situation deteriorates and humanitarian agencies struggle to respond to the needs of the displaced.

When the displacement crisis worsened in North Kivu in 2007, the UN refugee agency sent emergency teams to the area and set up operations in several camps for internally displaced people (IDPs). Assistance efforts have also included registering displaced people and distributing non-food aid. UNHCR carries out protection monitoring to identify human rights abuses and other problems faced by IDPs in North and South Kivu.

Displaced in North Kivu: A Life on the Run

Displaced by Fresh Fighting in North Kivu

Waves of fighting in eastern Democratic of the Republic since late April have displaced tens of thousands of people. Many have become internally displaced within the province, while others have fled to south-west Uganda's Kisoro district or to Rwanda via the Goma-Gisenyi crossing.

The stop-start clashes between government forces and renegade soldiers loyal to former rebel commander Bosco Ntaganda began in the province's Masisi and Walikale territories, but subsequently shifted to Rutshuru territory, which borders Uganda.

Between May 10-20, one of UNHCR's local NGO partners registered more than 40,000 internally displaced people (IDP) in Jomba and Bwesa sectors.

The IDPs are living in difficult conditions, staying in school buildings and churches or with host families. They lack food and shelter and have limited access to health facilities. Some of the displaced have reported cases of extortion, forced labour, beatings and recruitment of minors to fight.

UNHCR and other major aid organizations plan to distribute food, medicine and other aid. More than 300,000 people have been forcibly displaced in North and South Kivu since the start of the year, according to UN figures.

Displaced by Fresh Fighting in North Kivu

Displaced inside Syria: UNHCR and its Dedicated Staff help the Needy

The violence inside Syria continues to drive people from their homes, with some seeking shelter elsewhere in their country and others risking the crossing into neighbouring countries. The United Nations estimates that up to 4 million people are in need of help, including some 2 million believed to be internally displaced.

The UN refugee agency has 350 staff working inside Syria. Despite the insecurity, they continue to distribute vital assistance in the cities of Damascus, Aleppo, Al Hassakeh and Homs. Thanks to their work and dedication, more than 350,000 people have received non-food items such as blankets, kitchen sets and mattresses. These are essential items for people who often flee their homes with no more than the clothes on their backs. Cash assistance has been given to more than 10,600 vulnerable Syrian families.

Displaced inside Syria: UNHCR and its Dedicated Staff help the Needy

Syria: Hope Returns to Baba AmrPlay video

Syria: Hope Returns to Baba Amr

Twelve out of 36 neighbourhoods in the city of Homs are in desperate need of reconstruction. One of them is Baba Amr, where clashes in 2011-2012 uprooted some 80,000 people. Four years on, returning residents and Syrians displaced from other parts of the country are coming together to rebuild the area.
Syria: Heading Home to RuinsPlay video

Syria: Heading Home to Ruins

Nearly half a million residents from Homs and surrounding areas have been displaced by heavy fighting, some multiple times within Syria, while others have fled abroad. One of the biggest challenges facing returnees, is rebuilding their homes in the rubble of old Homs and Hamediyeh.
Syria: High Commissioner brings help to the displaced in Syria
Play video

Syria: High Commissioner brings help to the displaced in Syria

In his first visit to Syria as UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi appealed to all parties to the conflict to allow regular, unimpeded and sustained access for humanitarian organizations to besieged and hard to reach areas. He also visited a clinic and a community centre providing protection services to some of the 6.5 million people displaced inside the country.