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Conflict and Displacement: Voices of displacement and return in Central African Republic's neglected crisis

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Executive Summary

Concern’s commitment to leaving no one behind has increasingly taken the organisation to fragile contexts, where the devastating consequences of conflict and resulting levels of human suffering have soared in recent years. Displacement is a defining characteristic of modern conflict: by the end of 2016, over 65 million people were displaced by persecution, conflict and violence.

This report seeks to understand how conflict affects different individuals’, groups’ and communities’ experience of displacement and return; the different dynamics of displacement; and what gaps or opportunities remain for addressing or mitigating the impacts of conflict on displacement.
Central African Republic (CAR) is one of the world’s most conflict-affected countries. Despite the fact that an estimated 2.5 million people – more than half the country’s population – are in need of humanitarian assistance, the international humanitarian response to this neglected crisis has been severely underfunded in recent years. Since a violent takeover of power in 2013, stability in the country has deteriorated. As a result of five years of conflict, over 1.1 million people, or more than one in every five Central Africans, are displaced.1 The country remains plagued by ongoing insecurity, limited state capacity and acute access barriers for humanitarian actors.2 As such, even people who have returned to relatively more stable areas face immense challenges in rebuilding their lives.

The report finds that conflict-induced displacement is highly context-specific, and rarely an isolated event: millions of people around the world are affected by cyclical and recurring waves of conflict and insecurity. They are often displaced multiple times, and engage in a near-constant search for safety.

The long-term effects of protracted and cyclical displacement can reduce household and community resilience and erode coping strategies over time. In addition, repeated cycles of displacement are linked to more risk-averse economic behaviour and shortened planning horizons among households, with implications for reduced investment in property, assets and livelihoods.