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UNHCR and WFP Chiefs in joint push for more attention on Central African Republic refugees

Press Releases, 3 June 2014

ROME/GENEVA Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme Ertharin Cousin and UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres will be in Rome tomorrow, 4 June 2014, in a joint push to draw attention to the plight of refugees and third-country nationals fleeing Central African Republic (C.A.R).

The heads of the two agencies are expected to tell a special side event to WFP's Executive Board meeting that urgently increased international support is needed to accelerate humanitarian efforts in the region.

Countries neighbouring C.A.R. are struggling to cope with more than 226,000 refugees and third-country nationals who have fled violence since December, many of whom are arriving malnourished after months of living in the bush. Cameroon, for example, where almost 90,000 people have arrived since December, is seeing acute malnutrition rates among refugees running at 20-30 percent, and higher still in some locations.

Currently, the existing Regional Refugee Response Plan for Central African Republic is only 9 percent funded. This plan involves UNHCR and 14 partners in the four countries affected by C.A.R. refugee crisis Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo.


WHEN 4 June 13:45-14:45

WHERE WFP Headquarters Rome

WHAT Donor Briefing Responding to the C.A.R. Crisis

WHO

  • WFP Executive Director, Ertharin Cousin,
  • UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres
  • WFP CAR and Cameroon Emergency Coordinator, Denise Brown
  • UNHCR Director of Africa Bureau, George Okoth Obbo

Journalists/broadcasters interested in arranging interviews should contact:

  • Frances Kennedy, WFP/Rome Tel. (39) 06 6513 3725 Mob. (39) 347 2429462
  • Emilia Casella, WFP/Rome Tel. (39) 066513 3854 Mob (39) +347 945 0634
  • Melissa Fleming, UNHCR Geneva Tel +41 79 557 9122 fleming@unhcr.org
  • Babar Baloch, UNHCR Geneva Tel +41 79 557 9106 baloch@unhcr.org
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• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

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Central African Republic: Urgent Appeal

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A Central African Refugee's Reunion With Her Sons Brings Joy and Sorrow

The violence and conflict in the Central African Republic has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes since mid-December. Many have sought refuge in neighbouring countries, including 80,000 in Cameroon. During the trauma and confusion of flight, families often become separated. They face many dangers on the way to safety, and their journey can take many weeks. Ramatou, a 45-year-old mother of 11 children, was separated from three of her sons and her husband when militiamen attacked her village in January. She ran in one direction with eight children and eventually made it to Cameroon with the help of African Union peace-keepers. Her husband and three sons ran in a different direction and endured many ordeals in the bush, becoming separated again. Earlier this month, Ramatou was reunited in Cameroon's Mbile Refugee Camp with the two youngest boys. She was overjoyed, but dismayed that they were on their own. She still hopes for her husband and eldest son to turn up. Photographer Fred Noy was there at the emotional reunion.

A Central African Refugee's Reunion With Her Sons Brings Joy and Sorrow

Batalimo to Batanga and Beyond: Congolese Return Home from CAR

Over the past month, almost 6,300 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have left the Batalimo camp in the troubled Central African Republic and returned voluntarily to their homes in Equateur province. Their decision to go back is a further sign of the gravity of the situation in Central African Republic, where escalated violence since December has left hundreds of thousands internally displaced and forced almost 350,000 to flee to neighbouring countries. The refugees at Batalimo were among some 20,000 Congolese who had fled to the Central African Republic to escape inter-ethnic conflict back home. The return operation from Batalimo had been postponed several times for security and logistical reasons, but on April 10 the first convoy headed across the Oubangui River. The last arrived in the DRC on May 10. The UN refugee agency organized transportation of the refugees from Batalimo to the Central African Republic riverside town of Zinga, where they boarded boats for the crossing to Batanga or Libenge in Equateur province. In Batanga, the returnees were registered, provided with documentation and given a cash grant to help them reintegrate. They were then transported to their villages, where they will be monitored. Photographer Leonora Baumann followed one group back to the DRC.

Batalimo to Batanga and Beyond: Congolese Return Home from CAR

2014: CAR refugees attacked as they flee to Cameroon

Each week 10,000 Muslims cross into eastern Cameroon to escape the violence consuming the Central African Republic (CAR). Many new arrivals report that they have been repeatedly attacked as they fled. The anti-Balaka militiamen have blocked main roads to Cameroon, forcing people to find alternate routes through the bush. Many are walking two to three months to reach Cameroon, arriving malnourished and bearing wounds from machetes and gunshots.

UNHCR and its partners have established additional mobile clinics at entry points to provide emergency care as refugees arrive. The UN refugee agency is also supporting public health centres that have been overwhelmed by the number of refugees and their condition.

Meanwhile, UNHCR has relocated some 20,000 refugees who had been living in the open in the Garoua Bouai and Kenzou border areas, bringing them to new sites at Lolo, Mborguene, Gado and Borgop in the East and Adamwa regions.

Since the beginning of the year, Cameroon has received nearly 70,000 refugees from CAR, adding to the 92,000 who fled in earlier waves since 2004 to escape rebel groups and bandits in the north of their country.

UNHCR staff members Paul Spiegel and Michele Poletto recently travelled to eastern Cameroon and have the following photos to share from their iPhone and camera.

2014: CAR refugees attacked as they flee to Cameroon

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.