Violence in Bangui triggers fresh displacement in Central African Republic

News Stories, 1 April 2014

© UNHCR/A.Greco
This forcibly displaced man found shelter with his friends in a church in a town north of Bangui.

BANGUI, Central African Republic, April 1 (UNHCR) A fresh wave of violence has swept Bangui over the past week, forcing some 16,000 people to flee to safety within Central African Republic.

The violence in the capital included stepped up attacks by the predominantly Anti-Balaka militia on Muslim populations and the African Union troops protecting them. Also last week in Bangui, a group of Muslim youth attacked Christians during a funeral ceremony, killing 20 of the mourners.

The renewed inter-communal violence has triggered further displacement within the country and across its borders. Since the attacks in the capital early last week, the number of internally displaced people in CAR has risen to 637,000, including 207,000 in Bangui. This represents an increase of nearly 16,000 people.

At the height of the crisis, close to 1 million people were displaced by violence inside the Central African Republic, including 700,000 in Bangui. More than 2,000 people have been killed in the conflict between Seleka and anti-Balaka fighters since December last year.

Anti-Balaka forces control major routes to and from Bangui as well as many towns and villages in the south-west of the country. They pose a particular threat to Muslims in the PK12 neighbourhood of Bangui, in Boda, Carnot and Berberati, to the west of Bangui, and in the town of Bossangoa, further north.

"We fear for the lives of 19,000 Muslims in those locations. UNHCR stands ready to assist with their evacuation to safer areas within or outside of the country," spokeswoman Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba told journalists in Geneva on Tuesday.

"Representatives of the Muslim population in Boda told our staff last week that they felt trapped and that the presence and protection provided by the French troops has so far prevented them from being killed. They added that their freedom of movement is restricted and are requesting to be moved to a safer place," she added.

Many of Boda's Christians also fear the Anti-Balaka militiamen, who operate with impunity.

UNHCR and its partners are planning to send staff to the area this week to establish a humanitarian presence and ensure the delivery of assistance to those at risk in Boda and Carnot. In the meantime, the refugee agency is exploring the possibility of their relocation to Kabo and Moyen Sido in the north of the country.

The town of Bemal, also in the north, has been identified for relocation of communities at risk. A joint mission by UNHCR and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is heading there today for discussions with local youth worried about their security, should the relocation take place.

Meanwhile, the mostly Muslim refugees continue to stream into neighbouring countries from Central African Republic. In the past three months, more than 82,000 Central Africans have found shelter in Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of Congo and Chad.

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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

Central African Republic: Crossing the Oubangui to Home and Safety

The escalating violence in Central African Republic (CAR) has caught everyone in its web, including refugees from countries such as Chad, Cameroon and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). For the Congolese living in places like the CAR capital, Bangui, or the town of Batalimo, home was just a short trip away across the Oubangui River. UNHCR earlier this year agreed to help those who wished to repatriate due to fear for their safety. The refugee agency has since mid-January facilitated the return home of hundreds of these refugees. The following photographs, taken earlier this month by UNHCR staff members Dalia Al Achi and Hugo Reichenberger, depict the repatriation of a group of 364 Congolese. The refugees portrayed were heading to the riverside town of Zongo in Democratic Republic of the Congo's Equateur province, where they spent a night in a transit centre before continuing to their hometowns. They were relieved to be leaving, and some were in poor health. The decision to return to the country they had fled during the years of civil war from 1996-2003 was not easy. Some 6,000 of the 17,000 Congolese refugees in Central African Republic have registered with UNHCR to go home.

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