New fighting in central-northern CAR displaces thousands more civilians

Briefing Notes, 16 May 2014

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 May 2014, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR is seeing new displacement in Central African Republic following a recent intensification of conflict in the centre-north. Already, as of 2 May, more than 23,000 people were displaced in the Kaga Bandoro area, a near doubling from the level of a month earlier. With further fighting in the past week more people have had to flee their homes, although at present humanitarian agencies are blocked from being able to verify exact numbers.

Most of the displaced are Christians, mainly women and children. Many of the men are in hiding, due to fear of attacks by armed groups. 13 deaths were reported on 9 May amid the fighting. The displaced are for the most part concentrated in several church compounds and in Dekoa, a town south of Kaga Bandoro.

The displaced urgently need physical protection, food, non-food items, water and sanitation, and other help. Many are sleeping in the open, even though the rainy season has arrived. Although some food support is being provided by our partner agencies, people are fast consuming their own food reserves, and are unable to cultivate their fields due to fear of attacks. Already a high prevalence of diarrhoea is being reported among children.

Not all the displacement is recent or for the first time. Among the IDPs are people who have been unable to return to their homes since February, following attacks in their villages. Many have been living between displacement sites and hiding in the bush, making it difficult to get help to them.

UNHCR, in collaboration with other UN agencies, is providing shelters and non-food assistance, including tarpaulins, blankets, mats, kitchen sets, buckets and jerry cans. We continue to reiterate our call to all parties in this conflict to allow access to IDPs and permit the delivery of life-saving humanitarian aid.

New displacement is also being seen in CAR's northwest. UNHCR has registered 2,445 displaced people in Paoua in Ouham Pendé prefecture following an attack in early May on a nearby village. People have also fled into the Bush in neighbouring Ouham prefecture after an attack on Tuesday (13 May) in the village of Markounda.

Given the close proximity of these areas to Chad, UNHCR urges the Chadian authorities to continue providing access to its territory for people fleeing CAR and in need of safe haven, as well as proper access to asylum procedures. We appreciate that so far people have been able to seek refuge there some 8000 since December.

The situation in Bangui differs from that elsewhere in CAR. Despite the fluid security situation, some internally displaced have been gradually returning. As of 13 May 2014, there were 135,050 internally displaced people living in 43 sites in the CAR capital, compared with 142,635 the previous week.

Across CAR the number of internally displaced people is now estimated at about 560,050 (135,050 in Bangui and 425,000 in the rest of the country), while 115,524 Central Africans have fled to Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Republic of Congo since December.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Bangui, Akatrina Kitidi on mobile : +236 72 68 4828
  • In Geneva, Adrian Edwards on mobile +41 79 557 9120
  • Fatoumata Lejeune on mobile +41 79 249 34 83
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Internally Displaced People

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

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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

Internally Displaced in Chad

In scenes of devastation similar to the carnage across the border in Darfur, some 20 villages in eastern Chad have been attacked, looted, burned and emptied by roving armed groups since 4 November. Hundreds of people have been killed, many more wounded and at least 15,000 displaced from their homes.

Some 7,000 people have gathered near Goz Beida town, seeking shelter under trees or wherever they can find it. As soon as security permits, UNHCR will distribute relief items. The UN refugee agency has already provided newly arrived IDPs at Habila camp with plastic sheeting, mats, blankets and medicine. The agency is scouting for a temporary site for the new arrivals and in the meantime will increase the number of water points in Habila camp.

The deteriorating security situation in the region and the effect it might have on UNHCR's operation to help the refugees and displaced people, is of extreme concern. There are 90,000 displaced people in Chad, as well as 218,000 refugees from Darfur in 12 camps in eastern Chad.

Posted on 30 November 2006

Internally Displaced in Chad

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