10 January 2014
UNHCR announced on 3 January 2014 that due to violence in Central African Republic (CAR) more than 935,000 persons, 60% of whom are children, have been forced to seek safety in another part of their country.
According to UNHCR, at the close of 2013, approximately 240,000 refugees had fled CAR, with 75,000 of those having left since March 2013, mostly to the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Chad and Cameroon.
Over half a million of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) are living in 67 displacement sites in the capital Bangui, which constitutes more than half of the city’s population. UNHCR is concerned that the fighting, which has intensified since early December 2013, is hampering humanitarian aid efforts by preventing agency access to those displaced by the conflict. According to a 7 January 2014 Situation Report from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 778 people have been killed in Bangui since the beginning of December 2013.
Rebel attacks by the mainly Muslim “Séléka” coalition of armed groups began on major towns in December 2012. Following an unsuccessful ceasefire agreement, the rebel forces invaded Bangui on 24 March 2013, forcing President François Bozizé to flee. The intensification of violence since early December 2013 between Muslim and Christian groups in the capital has led the UN to warn that the conflict ‘could turn into religious war and spill over borders’.
UNHCR recommended in April 2013 that forced returns to CAR be suspended and that many asylum seekers from CAR will meet the Geneva Convention criteria for refugee status. On 24 December 2013, an inter-agency humanitarian plan, for which over US $150m has been requested, was announced.