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2014 UNHCR country operations profile - Central African Republic

| Overview |

Working environment

  • For decades, the Central African Republic (CAR) has been troubled by military coups, rebellions, war and the looting of assets, leading to a deep economic crisis in the country. Foreign armed groups are active in the CAR, particularly in the north, northeast and southeast.

  • Despite the precarious situation in the CAR, the country's stance on asylum is constructive and refugees live side-by-side with local populations, both in rural areas and in Bangui. The Government of the CAR has made land available for nearly 12,000 refugees living in three camps and provides them with refugee identification documents.

  • Since December 2012, the CAR has been experiencing political and social instability as well as insecurity, which has exacerbated the already precarious humanitarian situation in the country. Following the seizure of power by force in March 2013, the country has seen the disruption of normal life, human rights violations, and the massive displacement of populations.

  • Over 400,000 people are estimated to be internally displaced, compared to some 94,000 in early 2012. Some 65,000 individuals have fled to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Republic of the Congo, Chad and Cameroon, bringing the global number of Central African refugees close to 220,000.

  • UN staff who had been evacuated following the March events, returned to the CAR by mid-August 2013. However, the presence of armed individuals throughout the country affects the security situation; incidents, including attacks on the offices, warehouses and vehicles of UN agencies and humanitarian organizations continue to take place. Insecurity is also strongly affecting humanitarian access, forcing some organizations to scale down or temporarily suspend their activities.

People of concern

The main groups of people of concern planned for in 2014 under the CAR operation are: refugees and asylum-seekers of various nationalities who are hosted in Bangui; refugees from the DRC hosted in rural areas (Zemio and Batalimo camps) who escaped tribal violence in the north-western part of the DRC; refugees from Sudan (Pladama Ouaka camp, close to Bambari town) who fled violence in the Darfur region; and over 400,000 IDPs who have settled in several makeshift sites in the Ombella-Mpoko, Kemo, Ouaka and Ouham districts.

Planning figures

UNHCR 2014 planning figures for Central African Republic
TYPE OF POPULATION ORIGIN Dec 2013 Dec 2014 Dec 2015
Total in country of whom assisted
by UNHCR
Total in country of whom assisted
by UNHCR
Total in country of whom assisted
by UNHCR
Total 420,340 254,000 518,730 277,950 279,850 263,450
Refugees Dem. Rep. of the Congo 9,880 9,290 8,880 8,290 3,290 3,290
Sudan 5,360 1,970 5,360 1,970 1,970 1,970
Various 2,500 2,500 2,500 2,500 3,000 3,000
Asylum-seekers Dem. Rep. of the Congo 1,360 130 1,000 100 800 100
Various 1,240 120 1,000 100 800 100
Returnee arrivals during year (ex-refugees) Central African Rep. - - - - 35,000 35,000
Internally displaced Central African Rep. 400,000 240,000 400,000 240,000 200,000 200,000
Returnee arrivals during year (ex-IDPs) Central African Rep. - - 100,000 25,000 35,000 20,000

| Response |

Needs and strategies

The Office, in close collaboration with its Government counterpart and partners, will continue to provide international protection, multi-sector assistance and durable solutions to approximately 12,000 rural and urban refugees, mainly of Sudanese and Congolese (DRC) origin, in the CAR. This includes some 6,000 refugees from the DRC in Batalimo camp who have expressed their wish to repatriate.

UNHCR will advocate with the new Government to establish a national refugee status determination mechanism. For rural and urban refugees who do not wish to return, UNHCR will support their self-reliance, while endeavouring to support their local integration and naturalization.

Many IDPs have seen their villages burnt, social and sanitary infrastructure looted, and livestock stolen. Their critical needs include shelter, water, basic healthcare and education. As the protection cluster lead agency, UNHCR will strengthen protection and advocacy activities for over 400,000 IDPs through increased networking with protection cluster partners, protection by presence and protection monitoring. In the most affected areas, activities related to preventing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) will be carried out, while domestic items and shelter support will be provided to the most vulnerable. In the context of the humanitarian reform and the Transformative Agenda, UNHCR will collaborate and coordinate actions in support of the burgeoning IDP population.

| Implementation |

Coordination

In 2014, UNHCR will work in close coordination with the authorities of the CAR, and maintain its strategic partnership with the Commission Nationale pour les Réfugiés (CNR), at the national, regional and local levels, with a view to continuing to provide protection to refugees and IDPs. Concerted efforts will be made to increase the presence of the CNR in the field, particularly in the three refugee camps (Batalimo, Pladama-Ouaka and Zemio) to preserve order and security, protect the population from violence and exploitation, and ensure effective camp management. Particular attention will also be paid to conducting registration, profiling and regular updating of data and providing civil status documentation to refugees. The provision of multi-sector assistance by UNHCR's implementing partners will be closely coordinated and monitored to ensure a harmonized response in the three camps and greater impact on the beneficiaries.

Concerning IDPs, UNHCR will strengthen its leadership of the protection and shelter clusters as well as collaboration and coordination with other humanitarian actors to enhance service to IDPs.

2014 UNHCR partners in Central African Republic
Implementing partners
Government agencies: Commission Nationale pour les Réfugiés
NGOs: Centre de Support en Santé, Cooperazione Internazionale, Danish Refugee Council, International Medical Corps, Medical Emergency Relief International, Mercy Corps, Triangle
Operational partners
Government agencies: Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Social Affairs, Office of the President, Office of the Prime Minister, Territorial Administration
NGOs: Agence d'Aide à la Coopération technique et au Développement, Association pour le Développement de M'brès, Alliance pour la Protection de l'Enfant en Centrafrique, Community Humanitarian Emergency Board, Mission idéale d'Actions Humanitaires et de Développement durable, International Rescue Committee, Jesuit Refugee Service, Jeunesse unie pour la Protection de l'Environnement et le Développement communautaire, Ligue centrafricaine des Droits de l'Homme, Ligue islamique d'Afrique, Fondation de Recherches et d'Actions pour le Développement, Rebatisseurs de la Muraille des Oeuvres de Dieu, Save the Children International, Vitalité Plus, War Child
Others: FAO, UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA), UNAIDS, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, WFP, WHO

| Financial information |

Taking into consideration the influx of Congolese (DRC) refugees and the rising number of IDPs, the financial requirements for UNHCR's operation in the CAR grew from USD 18.9 million in 2010 to USD 27.9 million in 2012, before decreasing to a revised 2013 budget of USD 23.6 million. With the recent displacement crisis in the country, as well as the ongoing repatriation operation, the 2014 financial requirements for the CAR are set at USD 24.4 million. However the provision of protection and emergency shelter for IDPs may require additional resources in the year ahead.

Source: UNHCR Global Appeal 2014-2105

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Statistical Snapshot*
* As at mid-2013
  1. Country or territory of asylum or residence. In the absence of Government estimates, UNHCR has estimated the refugee population in most industrialized countries based on 10 years of asylum-seekers recognition.
  2. Persons recognized as refugees under the 1951 UN Convention/1967 Protocol, the 1969 OAU Convention, in accordance with the UNHCR Statute, persons granted a complementary form of protection and those granted temporary protection. It also includes persons in a refugee-like situation whose status has not yet been verified.
  3. Persons whose application for asylum or refugee status is pending at any stage in the procedure.
  4. Refugees who have returned to their place of origin during the first six months of 2013. Source: Country of origin and asylum.
  5. Persons who are displaced within their country and to whom UNHCR extends protection and/or assistance. It also includes persons who are in an IDP-like situation.
  6. IDPs protected/assisted by UNHCR who have returned to their place of origin during the first six months of 2013.
  7. Refers to persons under UNHCR's statelessness mandate.
  8. Persons of concern to UNHCR not included in the previous columns but to whom UNHCR extends protection and/or assistance.
  9. The category of people in a refugee-like situation is descriptive in nature and includes groups of people who are outside their country of origin and who face protection risks similar to those of refugees, but for whom refugee status has, for practical or other reasons, not been ascertained.
The data are generally provided by Governments, based on their own definitions and methods of data collection.
A dash (-) indicates that the value is zero, not available or not applicable.

Source: UNHCR/Governments.
Compiled by: UNHCR, FICSS.
Residing in Central African Republic [1]
Refugees [2] 17,732
Asylum Seekers [3] 2,604
Returned Refugees [4] 0
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPS) [5] 206,000
Returned IDPs [6] 0
Stateless Persons [7] 0
Various [8] 0
Total Population of Concern 226,336
Originating from Central African Republic [1]
Refugees [2] 221,577
Asylum Seekers [3] 3,617
Returned Refugees [4] 0
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPS) [5] 206,000
Returned IDPs [6] 0
Various [8] 0
Total Population of Concern 431,194
Government Contributions to UNHCR
Contributions since 2000
YearUSD
2013 0
2012 0
2011 0
2010 0
2009 0
2008 0
2007 0
2006 4,017
2005 0
2004 0
2003 0
2002 0
2001 0
2000 0

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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

Shared Experience Binds Hosts and Refugees Across the Oubangui River

The Oubangui River is a vital source of food and water for the hundreds of thousands living along its 1,000-kilometre-long course, and many rely on it for transport, trade and agriculture. The river, forming the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) with Central African Republic and Republic of Congo, has also been a life-saving bridge to safety for people fleeing the waves of violence that plague this deprived region - and a route back home when peace returns. This year, more than 40,000 terrified people have fled conflict in Central African Republic and crossed the river to find shelter in DRC's Equateur and Oriental provinces. Here they have received a warm welcome from the local people, many of whom know exactly what it is like to be a refugee. Time and again, newly arrived refugees from CAR seek out people they once hosted in Bangui and other places along the river. And these old friends are offering them and their families places in already cramped homes, and sharing their meagre resources. Photographer Brian Sokol recently travelled to Equateur province to document the extraordinary bond between the refugees and host communities. These are some of his striking portraits of hosts and their guests. They know that one day their roles could be reversed by the ebb and flow of violence.

Shared Experience Binds Hosts and Refugees Across the Oubangui River

Conflict in Central African Republic

Since December 2012, the Central African Republic has been caught in a vicious cycle of violence that has seen some 400 people killed and 800 homes burned. This violence has caused as many as 400,000 people to flee their homes in search of safety. Many of the displaced live in the bush and are in need of shelter, food, water, sanitation and health care, especially during the current rainy season. In addition, many children have become separated from their families in the chaos of flight. Most of the affected are from areas outside Bangui, the capital, mainly from Ouham prefecture, where there are 175,000 displaced, with almost 40,000 in Bossangoa. Of these, some 37,000 are camping in dire conditions on the grounds of the Catholic Church and hundreds more in a school and a hospital. Photographer Boris Heger was in the area earlier this year and took these powerful images. The people still need help and the situation remains unstable.

Conflict in Central African Republic

Central African Republic: Torn Apart by Violence

Sectarian violence has been tearing the troubled Central African Republic apart over the past month, with an estimated 800,000 people forcibly displaced since the start of December. This includes some 400,000 in Bangui, the capital, and tens of thousands more in the beleaguered town of Bossangoa to the north-west. In the fighting between the former Seleka rebel group and the Anti-Balaka movement, civilians have become the victims in a country where religions had long existed side-by-side in harmony. The majority of those fleeing seek shelter with relatives, friends or in churches and mosques.

In Bangui, an estimated 100,000 people are seeking shelter at the airport, while many others are in churches in the city. In Bossangoa, tens of thousands have gathered at the residence of the archbishop, while many Muslims have sought safety in a mosque or the Ecole Liberty. With Christians and Muslim civilians both fearing attacks if they return home, there are huge challenges to supply them with shelter, drinking water, latrines, food and health care. UNHCR has responded by supplying tents and non-food items to the internally displaced at the airport and churches in the capital. Sam Phelps recently visited Bangui and Bossangoa to photograph the lives of the desperate displaced.

Central African Republic: Torn Apart by Violence

The Most Important Thing: Central African Republic Refugees

Over the past year, the UN refugee agency has run a series of photosets on its website by American photographer Brian Sokol focusing on the possessions that refugees take with them when they are forced to flee from their homes. We started last August with Sudanese refugees in South Sudan and have since covered refugees from Syria and Mali.

Last year, Sokol visited the northern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to ask refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR) the same question: What is the most important thing you brought with you? He again received interesting answers from a wide range of people from rural and urban areas of CAR, where inter-communal violence has spiralled out of control. They are featured here and include a sandal that helped an old woman, a pair of crutches used by a man to reach safety and a boy's photo of his slain father. Another boy named the family members who escaped to safety with him as his most important possession - many would feel the same.

Tens of thousands of people have fled from CAR to neighbouring countries since December 2012, including 60,000 into northern DRC. Some 30,000 of them live in four refugee camps set up by UNHCR and the others are hosted by local families. For the majority, there was no time to pack before escaping. They fled extreme violence and chaos and arrived exhausted and traumatized in the DRC. They could take only the most essential and lightest belongings. The photos here were taken at Batanga Transit Centre, Boyabo Refugee Camp and Libenge village.

The Most Important Thing: Central African Republic Refugees

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.

Central African Republic: Crossing the Oubangui to Home and Safety

2014: CAR refugees attacked as they flee to Cameroon

Each week 10,000 Muslims cross into eastern Cameroon to escape the violence consuming the Central African Republic (CAR). Many new arrivals report that they have been repeatedly attacked as they fled. The anti-Balaka militiamen have blocked main roads to Cameroon, forcing people to find alternate routes through the bush. Many are walking two to three months to reach Cameroon, arriving malnourished and bearing wounds from machetes and gunshots.

UNHCR and its partners have established additional mobile clinics at entry points to provide emergency care as refugees arrive. The UN refugee agency is also supporting public health centres that have been overwhelmed by the number of refugees and their condition.

Meanwhile, UNHCR has relocated some 20,000 refugees who had been living in the open in the Garoua Bouai and Kenzou border areas, bringing them to new sites at Lolo, Mborguene, Gado and Borgop in the East and Adamwa regions.

Since the beginning of the year, Cameroon has received nearly 70,000 refugees from CAR, adding to the 92,000 who fled in earlier waves since 2004 to escape rebel groups and bandits in the north of their country.

UNHCR staff members Paul Spiegel and Michele Poletto recently travelled to eastern Cameroon and have the following photos to share from their iPhone and camera.

2014: CAR refugees attacked as they flee to Cameroon

UNHCR's Dr. Paul Spiegel on the Border of CAR  and CameroonPlay video

UNHCR's Dr. Paul Spiegel on the Border of CAR and Cameroon

This video was shot by one of our staff* using a mobile phone as they helped refugees who had crossed the river to safety.

Central African Republic: Torn CommunitiesPlay video

Central African Republic: Torn Communities

For more than a year, inter-communal strife has displaced tens of thousands of people in the Central African Republic. But amid the violence, efforts are being made to promote reconciliation.

Central African Republic : Bangui Airport RefugePlay video

Central African Republic : Bangui Airport Refuge

UNHCR's High Commissioner António Guterres visits Central African Republic and meets internally displaced people in Bangui airport. He says the international community needs to give the CAR crisis the same focus as the emergencies in Syria and South Sudan.

Central African Republic:  Bangui Crisis Play video

Central African Republic: Bangui Crisis

The humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic continues to deteriorate with tens of thousands seeking shelter from the violence. In the capital Bangui, the fighting and sectarian violence of the past weeks has displaced an estimated 159,000 people, with 450 killings reported there and 160 in other parts of the country, according to the Central African Red Cross Society and the Danish Refugee Council in the past weeks.

Central Africa Republic: A Helping HandPlay video

Central Africa Republic: A Helping Hand

Earlier this year, militiamen attacked villages in northwest Central African Republic, causing hundreds of people to flee to the bush. In Paoua, the needs are great and people rely on the kindness of others.

DR Congo: Central African Republic RefugeesPlay video

DR Congo: Central African Republic Refugees

Fighting and a coup since late last year in Central African Republic have forced more than 30,000 people to seek refuge in DR Congo. UNHCR chief António Guterres visited some of them.
Central African Republic: The Forgotten CrisisPlay video

Central African Republic: The Forgotten Crisis

On a mission to Central African Republic, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres described the violence and forced displacement in the country as a forgotten tragedy.
The Mbororo: A way of life at riskPlay video

The Mbororo: A way of life at risk

Systematic attacks on settlements in Central African Republic have forced more than 60,000 people from the Mbororo tribe to flee to neighbouring Cameroon. UNHCR is trying to help these nomadic herdsmen restart their lives.
Chad: Influx from Central African RepublicPlay video

Chad: Influx from Central African Republic

The conflict in Central African Republic (CAR) receives far less media attention than that in Darfur, but the effects are much the same. More than 17,000 people have crossed into Chad since January, bringing the total number of CAR refugees to almost 70,000.