108,000 displaced in Bangui, call for security in their neighbourhoods

Briefing Notes, 10 December 2013

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 10 December 2013, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

In Bangui, over 100,000 people are now displaced in the wake of heavy fighting between ex-Seleka rebels and self-defence forces last Thursday in the capital of the Central African Republic.

This brings to more than half a million the total number of people displaced within CAR since the crisis began in December 2012.

As of late Monday, an estimated 108,000 people were staying in 30 locations across Bangui where they feel safer than at home. The sites are mainly churches, mosques, public buildings and the airport. In addition, an unknown number of people have also moved to the mostly Muslim neighbourhood called Kilometre 5, in the northwest of Bangui. It is difficult to estimate their numbers because they have not regrouped in sites but are scattered.

Living conditions are appalling in many of the the sites hosting the displaced, particularly at the airport and at the monastery of Boy-rabe. People there are sleeping in the open and it is raining. Many of the displaced spend the night in the sites, and then return home during the day. But because they fear nightly attacks by armed elements, they go back to the IDP sites before the 6:00 pm curfew.

Armed clashes and sporadic gunfire were reported from yesterday afternoon until 02:00 am today.

The displaced people that UNHCR staff spoke to in Bangui say that they are hoping to see disarmament take place in their neighbourhoods to be able to return to their homes. They say that they plan to leave the sites as soon as ex-Seleka and anti-Balaka militiamen in their areas are disarmed and security restored.

UNHCR and its partners have been distributing tents, blankets, sleeping mats and other relief items to ease the suffering of the mostly women and children in the displaced sites. Along with our partners, we are also providing counselling to those who are traumatized.

Meanwhile, there has not been any further movement of people from Bangui to Zongo, across the Oubangui River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, due to the border closure by CAR authorities. On Thursday, before the border was closed, some 800 CAR people had managed to cross.

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