"I lost everything: my home, my flesh, my identity. My kids sleep on the floor."
Zainaba, widowed mother of four displaced in Bangui
Hundreds of thousands of people were forced to flee their homes as violence spread, with militants brutally killing civilians, looting homes and burning villages. Many people sought refuge across the border in Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Republic of Congo, while others were internally displaced.
Clashes between the Seleka alliance and anti-Balaka militia intensified in December 2013, setting off a new wave of displacement. Thousands of people walked for weeks through the forests in a desperate bid to escape, sometimes with nothing to eat or drink. Those who arrive at refugee sites are often traumatised by the violence they have witnessed, and we have seen particularly serious malnutrition rates in Cameroon.
"Many fled without anything – no money, no food, not even a mat to sleep on."
Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba, UNHCR
In what is one of the most poorly funded emergency situations, many people lack even basic survival assistance. Food, health, shelter, site planning and water sanitation are all primary concerns. Additional assistance is required for refugees living outside formal sites and for the communities hosting them.
But the crisis does not end in the CAR. Tens of thousands of people who escaped violence there are now facing another humanitarian catastrophe in the host countries they fled to, where shelter, food and medical facilities are also underfunded.
UNHCR and partners have renewed calls for donors to increase their support for programmes in CAR and neighbouring countries.