The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has advised governments not to forcibly return people to the Central African Republic (CAR). The return advisory, issued on 25 April, stresses that given the current circumstances, many people fleeing CAR are likely to meet the 1951 Convention criteria for refugee status. UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards has said that this decision has been made “in light of the current fluid and dangerous situation in CAR, including the wide prevalence of human rights violations and the grave and deteriorating humanitarian situation”.
In recent months, approximately 206,000 people have become internally displaced and 50,000 people have applied for asylum in neighbouring countries, with a majority fleeing to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Violence has escalated since December when the Seleka rebel coalition forces initiated a coup that eventually overthrew President Francois Bozize. Since then, Seleka have been accused by Human Rights Watch for committing violations against civilians including rape, torture and looting.