Number of refugees from Central African Republic approaches 40,000 mark

News Stories, 5 April 2013

© UNHCR/D.Mbaiorem
Refugees from Central African Republic wait for food and non-food items at a distribution in Mobayi-Mbongo, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

GENEVA, April 5 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency on Friday reported that the number of civilians fleeing instability in Central African Republican has risen to almost 40,000 and people continue to cross borders and seek shelter in neighbouring countries.

"Over the last two weeks our offices have reported fresh arrivals into Chad, Cameroon and Democratic Republic of the Congo. In all, and since the conflict began last December, there are now 37,000 CAR [Central African Republic] refugees in the region," UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told journalists in Geneva.

The refugees are mainly from the CAR capital, Bangui, as well as the cities of Bangassou, Rifai and Zemio in the south-eastern part of the country bordering Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Since December, more than 30,800 refugees have found asylum in northern DRC. Chad has received 5,600 CAR refugees and 1,024 arrivals have been registered in Cameroon.

Edwards said the needs of these refugees were significant. "Many left their homes in a hurry and were unable to bring personal belongings with them. People are either without places to live or being accommodated by local families who themselves live in extreme poverty," he explained.

UNHCR is working with the authorities in all three receiving countries to provide protection and assistance. "Our teams across the region are registering the refugees, distributing aid and setting up emergency shelters. We are also working with our humanitarian partners to provide health and education support wherever possible. This is often in remote and hard to reach locations," Edwards said.

In Chad, UNHCR has helped transfer refugees away from the border to Moro, a camp already hosting refugees from CAR.

The UNHCR spokesman said the agency had so far managed to help more than 26,750 people in northern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Those in Equateur province are in one camp and 19 temporary sites. In the area of Zongo, across the Oubangui River from Bangui, UNHCR is planning to expand the Worobe camp.

"Further north in Inke, North Oubangi District, our colleagues have also begun clearing 400 hectares of land given by the authorities to create initial capacity for at least 10,000 refugees," Edwards said, adding that "by moving refugees into camps we hope to improve the situation. Currently, people are scattered along a 600-kilometre stretch of the CAR border, making it hard to meet their needs."

The areas where refugees are located lack basic infrastructure. Health centres are short of medicine and qualified medical staff. On March 29, for example, an infant died from internal bleeding in Mobayi General Hospital because she could not be attended to in time.

Further east, in Orientale Province, UNHCR is running a main transit centre at Bondo but plans to build six additional ones and rehabilitate another.

Meanwhile the situation remains volatile in CAR, where another 173,000 civilians have been uprooted by the recent violence. Before the March 24 coup, there were 187,889 CAR refugees in neighbouring countries.

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Crisis in the Central African Republic

Little has been reported about the humanitarian crisis in the northern part of the Central African Republic (CAR), where at least 295,000 people have been forced out of their homes since mid-2005. An estimated 197,000 are internally displaced, while 98,000 have fled to Chad, Cameroon or Sudan. They are the victims of fighting between rebel groups and government forces.

Many of the internally displaced live in the bush close to their villages. They build shelters from hay, grow vegetables and even start bush schools for their children. But access to clean water and health care remains a huge problem. Many children suffer from diarrhoea and malaria but their parents are too scared to take them to hospitals or clinics for treatment.

Cattle herders in northern CAR are menaced by the zaraguina, bandits who kidnap children for ransom. The villagers must sell off their livestock to pay.

Posted on 21 February 2008

Crisis in the Central African Republic

Battling the Elements in Chad

More than 180,000 Sudanese refugees have fled violence in Sudan's Darfur region, crossing the border to the remote desert of eastern Chad.

It is one of the most inhospitable environments UNHCR has ever had to work in. Vast distances, extremely poor road conditions, scorching daytime temperatures, sandstorms, the scarcity of vegetation and firewood, and severe shortages of drinkable water have been major challenges since the beginning of the operation. Now, heavy seasonal rains are falling, cutting off the few usable roads, flooding areas where refugees had set up makeshift shelters, and delaying the delivery of relief supplies.

Despite the enormous environmental challenges, UNHCR has so far managed to establish nine camps and relocate the vast majority of the refugees who are willing to move from the volatile border.

Battling the Elements in Chad

Chad: Relocation from the Border to Refugee Camps

Since fighting broke out in Sudan's western region of Darfur last year, more than 110,000 Sudanese refugees have fled into Chad. They are scattered along a 600-km stretch of desert borderland under a scorching sun during the day and freezing temperatures during the night.

Access to these refugees in this inhospitable region is difficult. Staff of the UN refugee agency drive for days to locate them. Bombing in the border zone and cross-border raids by militia from Sudan put the refugees at risk and underscore the urgent need to move them to camps in the interior. In addition, the approach of the rainy season in May will make the sandy roads impassable. Aid workers are racing against time in an attempt bring emergency relief to these refugees.

Chad: Relocation from the Border to Refugee Camps

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