Surging violence in Central African Republic forces 88,000 to flee

Central African Republic (NFA)  – More funds are urgently needed to aid more than 88,000 people who have been forced to flee an upsurge in violence in the Central African Republic (CAR).

Since fighting flared in May between rebels more than 68,000 people have fled their homes within CAR, while nearly 20,000 have sought refuge in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

To assist those who have been recently forcibly displaced, UNHCR is calling for urgent support to its funding appeal of US$209.2 million for the CAR situation which is only 6 per cent funded.

Significant rebel activity on towns along the DRC border as well as rumours of possible attacks are pushing people to flee in the Haute Kotto and Mbomou prefectures inside CAR.

Over the last weeks, attacks of armed groups resulted in displacement within the three prefectures of Bria, Bangassou and Basse-Kotto. In Bria only, more than 41,000 people have been displaced. In addition, hundreds of civilians were reportedly killed. Most of the displaced sleep in the open or in makeshift shelters.

Humanitarian access in many of these areas remains severely restricted due to the security situation. UNHCR was however able to provide, through an inter-agency response, relief items for the newly displaced in Bria. We intend to distribute further relief, including family tents, mats, and blankets among the vulnerable families.

With available stocks in Bria, UNHCR will also be sending further relief from Bangui as our team assess the extent of the displacement in Bria and identify needs.

The recent upsurge in violence is also pushing people to cross the border into the DRC’s Bas Uele and Ubangi provinces. Some 20,575 Central Africans have fled over the past two weeks, according to estimates. UNHCR teams have met some of the arrivals while others were reported by local authorities.

Central Africans continue to arrive in the DRC, citing fear of new violence. Most of the new arrivals are staying close to the rivers — Mbomou and Ubangi — constituting the border between the two countries, hoping to quickly cross the border again once the situation stabilizes.

A rebel’s child by Pierre Holtz | UNICEF, CC BY-SA 2.0, Flickr Commons

UNHCR is particularly worried about the situation of the asylum seekers in the area near the small town of Ndu, just across the Mbomou River. People there arrived with hardly any belongings and some were wounded and require treatment. However, the area is so remote that UNHCR could not bring assistance by road and we are now assessing alternative options to reach Ndu.

Other areas, notably in DRC’s North Ubangi province, are easier to reach. The new arrivals are settled along the banks of the river, and most of them have found shelter with local families. UNHCR is working with humanitarian partners to provide further assistance and relief.

There are 503,600 internally displaced persons in the CAR. Prior to the latest influx, there were 102,600 Central African refugees registered in the DRC.

Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

This report prepared by Africa News