UNHCR seeks protection of civilians in Central African Republic

News Stories, 29 August 2013

© UNHCR/D.Mbaiorem
Thousands of people have been forced from their homes by fresh fighting in the capital, adding to the previous CAR total or some 206,000 IDPs

GENEVA, 29 August (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency on Thursday called for authorities in the Central African Republic to protect civilians from fighting in the capital that has killed at least 10 people and forced thousands to flee.

"UNHCR is deeply concerned for the safety of the civilian population, especially those who are forced to flee from their houses in search of safety," said Liz Ahua, deputy director of UNHCR's Bureau for Africa.

"We urge the authorities to use all means to stop attacks against civilians, restore security and protect the population," said the UN refugee agency official.

Ten days of arbitrary arrests, detention, torture, extortion, armed robberies, physical violence, restriction of movement, lootings and other attacks on civilians have displaced thousands of people. UNHCR said those affected, mainly from the Boy-Rabe and Boeing neighbourhoods, are seeking refuge in other parts of the capital.

So far, 10 people have reportedly been killed, the agency said. The newly displaced are sheltered in hospitals and churches, or with relatives. Some 500 people have found shelter in the Hôpital d'Amitié, where overcrowding and deteriorating sanitary conditions are a major concern.

"Since last week, we are facing a confusing security situation. People are leaving their houses to escape violence and abuses," Ahua said.

By Thursday morning, 5,000 to 6,000 people, including many women and children fleeing Boeing district, had taken refuge at Bangui International airport, blocking the runaway and forcing flights to be rerouted to Cameroon.

There were already over 206,000 internally displaced people in the Central African Republic before the recent events because of conflict inside the country.

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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

Silent Success

Despite being chased from their homes in the Central African Republic and losing their livelihoods, Mbororo refugees have survived by embracing a new way of life in neighbouring Cameroon.

The Mbororo, a tribe of nomadic cattle herders from Central African Republic, started fleeing their villages in waves in 2005, citing insecurity as well as relentless targeting by rebel groups and bandits who steal their cattle and kidnap women and children for ransom.

They arrived in the East and Adamaoua provinces of Cameroon with nothing. Though impoverished, the host community welcomed the new arrivals and shared their scant resources. Despite this generosity, many refugees died of starvation or untreated illness.

Help arrived in 2007, when UNHCR and partner agencies began registering refugees, distributing food, digging and rehabilitating wells as well as building and supplying medical clinics and schools, which benefit refugees and the local community and promote harmony between them. The Mbororo were eager to learn a new trade and set up farming cooperatives. Though success didn't come immediately, many now make a living from their crops.

Mbororo refugees continue to arrive in Central African Republic - an average of 50 per month. The long-term goal is to increase refugees' self-reliance and reduce their dependency on humanitarian aid.

Silent Success

Myanmar IDPs pick up the pieces in Rakhine state

A humanitarian crisis is unfolding across Myanmar's Rakhine state, where some 115,000 people are desperately in need of aid after being displaced during two waves of inter-communal violence in June and October 2012. The displaced, most of them ethnic Rohingya, have sought shelter in temporary relief camps and others remain scattered across the state, living under tight security in their destroyed villages. Conditions are harsh: the camps are overcrowded and some lack even the most basic of sanitation facilities while many of the villages are totally destroyed and running low on water. In one village, more than 32 families were living cheek-by-jowl in just two large tents. The children have no access to education and the newborn and elderly are in a very vulnerable position due to a lack of medical facilities. UNHCR is distributing relief supplies and working with the authorities and partners to improve camp conditions, but international assistance is required.

Myanmar IDPs pick up the pieces in Rakhine state

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