UNHCR renews call on donors to support Central African Republic refugees

Briefing Notes, 22 July 2014

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 22 July 2014, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

As the outflow of mostly Muslim refugees continues from the Central African Republic, many severely weakened, UNHCR and 16 other agencies providing life-saving relief are today calling on donors to increase their funding support for programmes in neighbouring host countries.

The appeal is a revision of a Regional Refugee Response Plan covering the four asylum countries Chad, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Republic of Congo initially launched in April 2014. Funding needs in that appeal were $274 million. Today's revised plan puts the required needs at $210 million for a targeted beneficiary population of 306,500 by December 2014. To date that amount is only 31 per cent funded.

The reduction in the financial requirements is mainly due to a decrease in the number of refugees projected to arrive in the DRC and does not include $85 million for some 100,000 returnees in Chad covered in the first appeal. Needs have grown in Cameroon where a majority of the refugees are arriving with $111 million requested in the Revised Plan, almost double of what was sought earlier.

Over 357,000 CAR refugees are in Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Congo since the beginning of the crisis in December 2012. Some 160,000 of them have fled since December 2013 after clashes intensified between the Seleka alliance and anti-Balaka militia.

The Revised Plan includes enhanced measures to assist newly arrived refugees. Resources are required for the reception, registration and relocation of new arrivals from the border to refugee sites, and for the delivery of services in life-saving sectors such as food, health, shelter, site planning and water and sanitation. Assistance is also needed for refugees living outside formal sites and for communities hosting them.

UNHCR has seen particularly serious malnutrition rates in Cameroon for over 118,000 arrivals in the last six months. Over 60 per cent of the refugees are women and children, with a high number of unaccompanied children.

Efforts must be redoubled to relocate people away from insecure and remote locations that are often hard to reach. More refugee sites need to be established to ensure the safety of refugees. Serious gaps in assistance remain in shelter and water, sanitation and hygiene. This poses particular concerns now that the rainy season has begun.

The new refugee arrivals show signs of the brutal violence they have escaped in CAR. Refugees have walked for weeks through the forests with little to eat or drink. In April and May, as many as 40 per cent of all the new refugees, children as well as adults, were suffering from malnutrition. We fear that for some children the assistance may be coming too late.

Since December 2013, some 17,500 have arrived in Chad, over 15,000 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with another 9,000 arriving in the Republic of Congo.

The CAR remains one of the most poorly-funded emergencies. The underfunding is badly hampering our ability to provide even basic survival assistance for the refugees and even less to the host communities.

Funding requirements for inside CAR, where an estimated 542,500 people remain internally displaced, are covered separately.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Geneva, Babar Baloch on mobile +41 79 557 9106
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