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Addressing Forced Displacement in the Central African Republic: How the international community can support protection efforts of Central African refugees and internally displaced people

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On April 28th, the Governments of the Central African Republic (CAR), Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Republic of the Congo, Chad, Sudan, and South Sudan, resolved to deliver durable solutions for the 1.4 million Central Africans forcibly displaced by decades of conflict. In partnership with United Nations Refugee agency (UNHCR), the alliance of governments signed the Yaoundé Declaration, which facilitates regional cooperation in strengthening protection, integration, and empowerment efforts for Central African refugees, IDPS, asylum-seekers, and returnees. The Declaration marked the first step toward a unified regional effort to mitigate one of the largest displacement crises on the African continent. As part of the coordination effort outlined, there is a call for additional support from the international community to ensure that the recommendations made in the Declaration successfully materialize. Presumably, this is meant foremost as a request for financial support, as only 9% of UNHCR’s financial needs for the CAR have been met for 2022, and its budget for Cameroon, the country who hosts the majority of Central African refugees, is only 4% funded. In addition, neighboring and refugee host countries of Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo have their own existing economic instabilities.

However, perhaps this appeal for support from the international community was also one for attention --neither global northern countries, nor media outlets, have done much to raise awareness about the situation in the Central African Republic. Though UN peacekeepers have deployed to the country for years, and donor states like the United States contribute “soft earmarked” funding to UNHCR’s and other UN agency’s general efforts, the CAR has not received large scale international attention that corresponds with the breadth of the protracted crisis generated within its borders. The United States, for example, has only admitted 1,965 Central African refugees since 2012, a significantly lower number than of refugees from neighboring countries with relatively similar protracted conflicts. While the reasoning behind this incongruency is beyond the scope of this brief, it is hoped that with the enactment of the Yaoundé Declaration, and the resultant regional coordination mechanism, the international community might take more direct action in supporting Central African refugees and IDPs. The following brief presents situational context of the country to frame some of the drivers of forced displacement in the country, outlines the Yaoundé Declaration’s primary objectives in terms of something, and provides recommendations for the international community’s involvement moving forward.