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UNHCR West & Central Africa Regional Update, 01 December 2020 to 15 January 2021

Situation Report
Originally published
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KEY FIGURES (as of 31 Nov. 2020)

10.7 million people of concern in West and Central Africa*

6.3 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)

1.4 million refugees

1.7 million stateless persons

25,000 asylum seekers

1.3 million returnees

21 countries and 4 situations


Insecurity in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin

▪ Insecurity in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin regions persists as armed groups continue to attack civilians. On 12 December, an attack killed 34 people and injured hundreds more in the town of Toumour in south-east Niger, 14 kilometers from the Nigeria border. In coordination with the local authorities, UNHCR organized emergency shelter, food, water, and health support to the affected communities in this area, which hosts over 20,000 Nigerian refugees, 8,300 IDPs, and 3,600 returnees, still in need of humanitarian assistance. The Diffa region has been hit hard by increasing extremist violence with over 450 acts of killing, kidnapping, sexual and gender-based violence, and other serious incidents reported in the first nine months 2020. Western Niger is also regularly targeted by armed groups and is facing a dire security situation. In December, seven Nigerien soldiers had been killed in an ambush in the Tillabery area and on 2 January 2021, 105 civilians were killed and left 75 wounded in the villages of Tchombangou and Zaroumdareye near Niger's border with Mali. In this difficult context, presidential elections were successfully organized in Niger on 22 December and saw the ruling party candidate Mohamed Bazoum lead the first round (second round scheduled on 21 February).

Displacements from Cote d’Ivoire and Central African Republic

▪ The political situation in Cote d’Ivoire has seen significant improvement in December 2020. As of 30 December, over 24,000 Ivorians who fled Cote d’Ivoire havebeen pre-registered in Liberia, Ghana, Guinea and Togo. In Liberia, which hosts 95 per cent of the new arrivals, UNHCR continues to coordinate with the Liberian health system and local government officials to improve access to medical services for new arrivals and host communities. To mitigate health risks, UNHCR has focused its effort on improving Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) through the installation of hand pumps, latrines and boreholes in key hosting areas. In a recent UNHCR survey, 70 per cent of Ivorian refugees in Liberia indicated their intention to return home whenever they feel it’s safe to do so. UNHCR is also providing assistance to the new Ivorian arrivals in Ghana, Guinea and Togo.

▪ The presidential election in Central African Republic organized on 27 December 2020 was marred by a coordinated offensive carried out by rebel groups which disrupted the vote in several parts of the country. As of 15 January 2021, close to 59,000 people were reported to have fled the country in fear of electionrelated violence to Cameroon (4,891), Chad (3,632), Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) (50,000) and Republic of Congo (195). In addition, some 58,000 people are still displaced inside CAR's affected regions, according to the Population Movement Commissions. In Cameroon, Chad, DRC and the Republic of Congo, UNHCR is working closely with national authorities and humanitarian partners to support the new arrivals with water, shelter, access to health and adequate sanitation to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases. As the situation remains tense, UNHCR also urges governments to continue to facilitate access to asylum despite restrictions on crossborder movements due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The facilitation of repatriation of Central African refugees from Cameroon and the DRC, which resumed in November 2020, has now been suspended until the situation in CAR stabilizes and allows for safe and sustainable returns. Nearly a quarter of CAR’s population of 4.7 million was forcibly displaced by the end of 2020, including 630,000 refugees in neighboring countries and 630,000 displaced internally.