(Bangui, 18 December 2012): Hundreds of people have been displaced from their homes in the northeastern towns of Sam Ouandja and Ndélé (Hautte Kotto and Bamingui Bangoran prefectures respectively) as Union des Forces Démocratiques pour le Rassemblement (UFDR) rebel groups took control on 10 December 2012. Most humanitarian organizations in Ndélé have relocated their personnel to the nation’s capital city Bangui for security reasons.
“The humanitarian community is deeply concerned about the humanitarian impact on the civilian population and urges all parties to observe strictly international humanitarian law, ensure that humanitarian access and space are unhindered as well as protect civilian lives and livelihoods.” said Modibo I. Toure, acting UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the Central African Republic.
According to the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS), the security situation in the north-eastern region remains calm but unpredictable. The presence of armed groups in the Ndélé subprefecture caused panic among the population – more than 36,000 people – some of whom decided to flee.
Internally displaced people (IDPs) have sought refuge in the bush while some 900 IDPs have been identified in Ndélé town and the surrounding area. Immediate assistance consisting of health services and clean drinking water is being provided by two humanitarian organizations, who are still present in Ndélé.
People also urgently need food and basic household items. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is facilitating discussions with humanitarian partners to ensure an effective response process.
Although the overall number of casualties remains unknown, the humanitarian consequences are high including restricted access to assistance and social services, and loss of personal belongings and livelihoods. Some abandoned homes and the compounds of some humanitarian organizations have been looted. As a result of heightened insecurity, some humanitarian personnel have been relocated to Bangui.
Some were airlifted by the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) while others were evacuated by road. Although a few organizations are still present in Ndélé, some humanitarian services have either been suspended or reduced, pending an improvement in the security situation. “I urge all organizations that have political influence to continue their advocacy with all parties involved, to ensure that negotiations are pursued rather than military confrontations, in order to prevent civilian casualties,” said Rodolphe Moinaux, Country Director for the Danish Refugee Council in the CAR. “Over the past year, the ceasefire agreement signed between the Convention des Patriotes pour la Justice et la Paix (CPJP) and UFDR groups ensured humanitarian access and assistance in the region. This humanitarian assistance enabled the re-establishment of normalcy in the lives of people affected by conflict and it would be unfortunate for new conflicts to jeopardize that.”
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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