Displacement and Women’s Housing, Land and Property Rights in the Central African Republic: Consequences of Evicting Widows

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A coup d’état in March 2013 and subsequent revenge-motivated violence (often of an inter-communal nature) led to widespread human rights violations, including violations of HLP rights. Pillaging, burning, destruction and occupation of housing and land occurred in several parts of the country. At the peak of the crisis, in January 2014, almost one million Central Africans – around one in five of the population – were displaced.

The conflict has had a devastating impact on civilians. In 2014, the UN Security Council detailed crimes including “extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detention, torture, sexual violence against women and children, rape, [and] recruitment and use of children.” The UN International Commission of Inquiry on CAR has also found evidence of numerous violations of the right to property, mostly widespread and systematic looting and destruction of housing. The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women issued a statement in July 2014 which highlighted how all parties to the conflict have exacerbated discrimination and violence against women and girls.


Internal displacement in CAR has occurred intermittently as a result of coups, internal armed conflict, generalised violence, human rights violations and natural hazards. The state lacks the authority and capacity to provide services in the provinces. A climate of widespread impunity has allowed armed groups to proliferate. Though rich in natural resources, CAR is chronically poor, ranked 185th of 187 countries in terms of human development. It has a gender inequality ranking of 142 out of 149 countries with available data. Maternal mortality is high and only slightly more than ten per cent of women have some secondary education. Conflict has been detrimental to development and has exacerbated inequality.