Fighting in Bangui, Central African Republic, displaces some 210,000 people

News Stories, 17 December 2013

© UNHCR/S.Phelps
Displaced people at the Bangui Airport, where they found shelter from the violence. They are living in UNHCR tents.

BANGUI, Central African Republic, December 17 (UNHCR) UN refugee agency staff in the Central African Republic believe that some 210,000 people have been forcibly displaced by violence in the last two weeks in the embattled capital, Bangui.

"In Bangui, our staff are reporting continued shooting and a mood of widespread fear," a UNHCR spokesman said. He added that on Monday, on the outskirts of the city, "We came across some 40,000 people who had been uprooted on the 5th and 6th of December, but who had been out of reach till now because of heavy fighting."

To escape the fighting and insecurity, hundreds of people fled over the weekend by boat across the Oubangui River to Zongo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo even though the border is officially closed and they risked being shot at. By official count, 1,815 people reached Zongo, bringing to 3,292 the total number of Central African Republic (CAR) refugees to have arrived there by boat since December 5.

Many of the new arrivals report witnessing atrocities, including killing, looting, breaking into homes. Many told UNHCR that some displaced people camping at Bangui airport were planning to join them in Zongo. "At Bangui airport, we have had to temporarily suspend aid distribution because of security incidents, some of which are related to sectarian violence," the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, violence was also reported in the town of Bossangoa, some 400 kilometres north-west of Bangui. UN security officials reported that militias had looted shops and burned houses in the northern part of the town over the weekend. The area is largely populated by Muslims.

Some 5,600 people have been displaced since renewed fighting started between the self-styled Anti-Balaka self-defence forces and fighters of the former Seleka rebel movement almost a fortnight ago. The newly displaced have joined the more than 4,000 people already staying on the premises of the overcrowded Liberté School.

"We continue to hear of attacks against Christians by former Seleka, with looting, killing and houses being set on fire. As well as at the school, since September 40,000 people have found sanctuary inside Bossangoa's sprawling Roman Catholic church," the UNHCR spokesman said.

Tensions are reported at the church between members of a regional African peace-keeping force and the militia groups, who are resisting disarmament. They are armed with agricultural tools and machetes, but have refused to hand them over.

Meanwhile, UNHCR said it was extremely concerned by the presence of armed men within sites hosting displaced people. The agency has asked that French and African troops step up patrols in troubled neighbourhoods and in the makeshift sites.

Tensions also remain in Paoua, some 130 km from Bossangoa, and nearby Beboura, where hundreds of civilians have reportedly sought shelter in the bush.

More than 710, 000 people have been uprooted within CAR since the current crisis began a year ago, while over 75,000 others have fled into exile.

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Displaced in North Kivu: A Life on the Run

Fighting rages on in various parts of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with seemingly no end in sight for hundreds of thousands of Congolese forced to flee violence and instability over the past two years. The ebb and flow of conflict has left many people constantly on the move, while many families have been separated. At least 1 million people are displaced in North Kivu, the hardest hit province. After years of conflict, more than 1,000 people still die every day - mostly of hunger and treatable diseases. In some areas, two out of three women have been raped. Abductions persist and children are forcefully recruited to fight. Outbreaks of cholera and other diseases have increased as the situation deteriorates and humanitarian agencies struggle to respond to the needs of the displaced.

When the displacement crisis worsened in North Kivu in 2007, the UN refugee agency sent emergency teams to the area and set up operations in several camps for internally displaced people (IDPs). Assistance efforts have also included registering displaced people and distributing non-food aid. UNHCR carries out protection monitoring to identify human rights abuses and other problems faced by IDPs in North and South Kivu.

Displaced in North Kivu: A Life on the Run

Displaced by Fresh Fighting in North Kivu

Waves of fighting in eastern Democratic of the Republic since late April have displaced tens of thousands of people. Many have become internally displaced within the province, while others have fled to south-west Uganda's Kisoro district or to Rwanda via the Goma-Gisenyi crossing.

The stop-start clashes between government forces and renegade soldiers loyal to former rebel commander Bosco Ntaganda began in the province's Masisi and Walikale territories, but subsequently shifted to Rutshuru territory, which borders Uganda.

Between May 10-20, one of UNHCR's local NGO partners registered more than 40,000 internally displaced people (IDP) in Jomba and Bwesa sectors.

The IDPs are living in difficult conditions, staying in school buildings and churches or with host families. They lack food and shelter and have limited access to health facilities. Some of the displaced have reported cases of extortion, forced labour, beatings and recruitment of minors to fight.

UNHCR and other major aid organizations plan to distribute food, medicine and other aid. More than 300,000 people have been forcibly displaced in North and South Kivu since the start of the year, according to UN figures.

Displaced by Fresh Fighting in North Kivu

Internally Displaced in Chad

In scenes of devastation similar to the carnage across the border in Darfur, some 20 villages in eastern Chad have been attacked, looted, burned and emptied by roving armed groups since 4 November. Hundreds of people have been killed, many more wounded and at least 15,000 displaced from their homes.

Some 7,000 people have gathered near Goz Beida town, seeking shelter under trees or wherever they can find it. As soon as security permits, UNHCR will distribute relief items. The UN refugee agency has already provided newly arrived IDPs at Habila camp with plastic sheeting, mats, blankets and medicine. The agency is scouting for a temporary site for the new arrivals and in the meantime will increase the number of water points in Habila camp.

The deteriorating security situation in the region and the effect it might have on UNHCR's operation to help the refugees and displaced people, is of extreme concern. There are 90,000 displaced people in Chad, as well as 218,000 refugees from Darfur in 12 camps in eastern Chad.

Posted on 30 November 2006

Internally Displaced in Chad

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