25 July 2014 - As the world turns its attention to the Middle East, the deteriorating situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) is again falling under the radar.
Representatives of the majority-Muslim Seleka signed a ceasefire agreement on Wednesday with Christian factions to end fighting in CAR. The signing of the pact came after heavy pressure from regional mediators and aims put an end to months of sectarian violence. However, it is not clear if the ceasefire will be respected by the fighters in CAR – and in the meantime the civilian population continues to suffer.
Tens of thousands are fleeing from CAR to neighbouring countries in order to escape the brutal violence they have faced at home. More than 357,000 people have fled CAR for Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Republic of Congo since December 2012.
The refugee situation is particularly precarious in Cameroon, to which most of the civilians are fleeing. Of those who have fled in the last seven months – the majority of them Muslims – over 118,000 are in Cameroon; 17,500 in Chad; over 15,000 in the DRC; and 9,000 in the Republic of Congo.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) spokesman Babar Baloch says: "The new refugees show signs of the brutal violence they have escaped in CAR. They have walked for weeks through the forests with little to eat or drink. In April and May, as many as 40 per cent of all the new refugees, children as well as adults, were suffering from malnutrition. We fear that for some children the assistance may be coming too late."
There is an urgent need to relocate refugees away from insecure and hard-to-reach locations, and to set up more refugee sites to ensure their safety. In addition, the start of the rainy season is raising concerns about the serious gaps in shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene.
CAR has for decades been troubled by military coups, rebellions, and war. The humanitarian crisis was further exacerbated when rebel fighting broke out in December 2012. 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.
Despite the escalating needs, the CAR situation remains one of the most poorly-funded emergencies. UNHCR and its partners appealed on Tuesday 21 July 2014 for greater donor support to cope with the continuing outflow and deteriorating condition for refugees from CAR in the four host countries. Together with 16 other humanitarian agencies, UNHCR has revised the Regional Refugee Plan for CAR, requesting US$210 million to assist with the very serious refugee situation.
You can find UNRIC's latest articles on CAR here:
The Brussels based United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe - UNRIC provides information on UN activities to the countries of the region. It also provides liaison with institutions of the European Union in the field of information. Its outreach activities extend to all segments of society and joint campaigns, projects and events are organized with partners including the EU, governments, the media, NGOs, schools and local authorities.
United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe (UNRIC Brussels)
Residence Palace, Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat 155, Block C2,7th and 8th floor, Brussels 1040, Belgium
Tel.: +32 2 788 8484 / Fax: 32 2 788 8485