"I lost everything: my home, my flesh, my identity. My kids sleep on the floor."
Zainaba, widowed mother of four displaced in Bangui
Back in December 2013, hundreds of thousands of people were forced to flee their homes as violence spread in the Central African Republic (CAR), with armed groups controlling parts of the country. Today, CAR continues to experience sporadic surges of violence forcing over 543,000 CAR refugees to remain in neighbouring Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Republic of the Congo, with smaller numbers in Sudan and South Sudan. This is the highest number of CAR refugees seen since the start of the crisis. In addition to the refugees, close to 700,000 people have been forced to flee inside the country. This figure represents an increase of about 60 per cent compared to 2016 numbers.
CAR had been experiencing a gradual transition towards peace and stability since late 2016, when both refugees and internally displaced people started to go back home. Now, insecurity is plaguing areas in the centre, northwest, east and south-east of CAR – some not previously affected by violence.
Thousands of people walk for weeks and hide in the forests in a desperate bid to escape, sometimes with nothing to eat or drink. Those who arrive at sites for the displaced have witnessed traumatic scenes of violence, and malnutrition rates have risen to serious levels.
In what is one of the most poorly funded emergency situations globally, many people lack even basic survival assistance. Food, health, shelter, and water and sanitation are all primary concerns for refugees living outside formal sites and for the communities hosting them.
UNHCR is helping people affected by the violence and conflict. Inside CAR, UNHCR’s focus remains on life-saving protection and assistance, distributing basic relief items to the newly displaced and new community shelters are being set up in response to the growing number of IDPs. In neighbouring countries, UNHCR and its partners continue to respond to new arrivals while building refugee’s livelihoods and ability to sustain themselves.