Central African Republic: UNHCR Operational Update, 01-31 May 2017
The centre, south, and east of the country plunged into violence with attacks against UN peacekeepers, displacement and refugee outflow
UNHCR and RRRM have provided urgent life-saving shelter and NFI assistance to 6,691 displaced households in Bria, Haute-Kotto prefecture
The displacement of Fulani herders in Ndim is nearing an end. Some returns have taken place after months of efforts to ensure the population’s safety
503,600 IDPs in CAR of whom 154,718 in sites and 348,882 in host families
20% of IDPs in Bambari are ready to return to their areas of origin, according to a UNHCR return intention survey conducted this month
63,600 people were displaced by violence in the centre, south and east of the country during May
The security situation significantly worsened across large swathes of the centre, south, and east of the country during the month. An emergency response was mounted as armed groups increased their activities. People pre-emptively fled their villages for other locations in CAR or in some cases sought refuge in neighbouring areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
On 9 May, Anti-Balaka elements attacked UPC troops in the town of Alindao. Reports indicated that the UPC, with its leader Ali Darrassa present in person, repelled the attacked and that the Anti-Balaka subsequently withdrew along the road to Mingala. At least three people were killed and 11 injured in the incident. A reported 14,382 people sought shelter at the catholic mission. Some 329 houses in the town had been burnt down as of 18 May.
On 18 May, clashes in Basse-Kotto spread through a number of villages in the subprefecture of Zangba, which neighbours Mobaye. Fierce fighting took place between Union pour La Paix Centrafricaine (UPC) and Anti-Balaka elements. This followed significant confrontations on 16 May in the village of Mboma on the road between Zamba and Alindao. The incident of 16 May reportedly claimed five lives and left six more injured. The villages of Banda-Koloyamba and Belengoa witnessed hostilities on 11 and 14 May respectively.
- There was a slight deterioration of the security situation in Nana Mambere during the reporting period. Of particular note, the town of Niem was occupied by the 3R armed group. After multiple cases of theft of cattle and the abduction of five herders by AntiBalaka, the 3R group retaliated by besieging the town of Niem and demanding the release of Fulani hostages along with their cattle. The armed group’s activities in Niem have led to numerous protection incidents including assassinations, displacement, and cases of arson.
On 8 May, armed elements ambushed a MINUSCA convoy travelling through the village of Youngofongo between Bangassou and Rafai. The attack resulted in the deaths of five peacekeepers (four Cambodians and one Moroccan) and left another ten wounded (nine Moroccans and one Cambodian).
On the night of 12 May, a group including Anti-Balaka elements attacked civilian populations in Bangassou, taking control of much of the town. The Tokoyo neighbourhood, home to a sizeable Muslim population, was subjected to the brunt of the attack. The nearby MINUSCA base also came under sustained heavy arms fire throughout the night and the following morning. During the exchange of fire, one Moroccan peacekeeper lost his life. MINUSCA reinforcements arrived in the area on 14 May in the form of a contingent of Portuguese troops previously stationed in Alindao. By 15 May, the MINUSCA contingent had regained control of the town.
MINUSCA has reported that displaced civilians have fled to the Central Mosque, the Catholic Church and the MSF hospital.
The situation in Bria, Haute Kotto prefecture, also worsened significantly during the month of May. Having already been the focus of fighting between armed groups in late 2016 and early 2017, the renewed violence provoked further fear amongst the civilian population. In response to the rising tensions, MINUSCA has strengthened its footing in the town, installing an additional check point near to an NGO base.
-The prevailing insecurity across the south and east of the country caused considerable anxiety amongst the Congolese refugee community in Zemio and led a small number to cross the river to the DRC. Once they had taken stock of the situation, they returned to the camp.
- On 22 May, a ceremony was held in Obo to mark the official departure of Ugandan and U.S. forces from the town. This followed several months of planning to enable Central African forces (FACA) to assume responsibility for the area.