Insecurity in the Central African Republic leads to continious population displacement and access constraints
(Yaoundé, 05 January 2013): On 10 December 2012, dissident members of the “Union des Forces Démocratiques Pour le Rassemblement” (UFDR) rebel group took control over the cities of Sam Ouandja and Ndélé in north eastern Central African Republic (CAR). The Séléka rebel group was later formed consisting of an alliance of the UFDR rebel group, dissidents from the “Convention des Patriotes pour la Justice et la Paix” (CPJP) and the “Convention Patriotique pour le Salut Wa Kodro” (CPSK) rebel groups. This group has invaded and taken control on several more towns across the country including, Bamingui, Kabo, Batangafo, Kaga Bandoro, Ippy, Bambari, Bria and Sibut (184km from Bangui).
Consequently, thousands of people have been displaced from their homes. People are seeking refuge in the bush, nearby regions or across the borders into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Cameroon.
An estimated 316,000 people (7% of the total CAR population of over 4.6 million) living in the affected areas, and some 700,000 persons in Bangui are at further risk of an escalation in fighting. Due to Sibut’s proximity to Bangui, population displacement is also reported in the nation’s capital. The full scale of displacement however remains unknown. Although key humanitarian partners are responding to the emergency needs of displaced people in some rebel-occupied areas, a full picture of the humanitarian situation is yet to be determined since United Nations agencies and most Non-Governmental Organizations have evacuated the affected areas ahead of the rebels’ advance. Nevertheless, some humanitarian actors still present in the country have limited access to people affected due to the prevailing insecurity. “I strongly urge all parties in the conflict to ensure unhindered and safe access to the affected population for humanitarian actors to provide much-needed critical emergency assistance. I am concerned about the impact this crisis is having on the civilian population and their livelihoods. I therefore call on all parties involved to respect humanitarian principles, international humanitarian law and ensure the protection of civilians,” said Dr. Zakaria Maiga, acting Humanitarian Coordinator in CAR.
Humanitarian access is vital to ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable and affected groups are identified and met.
The Humanitarian Community is prepared for an immediate deployment of an assessment team in the coming days to the affected areas, pending a secured humanitarian access. “We are gravely concerned at the impact this crisis is having on humanitarian access in CAR. We are anticipating substantial needs related to civilian protection and psycho-social support. These challenges will grow more acute as access challenges drag on” said the Monitoring and Evaluation Manager for Mercy Corps.
Considering that the CAR government has ratified the Convention of the Rights of the Child, children should be protected from recruitment into armed groups and militia during this crisis. Women, girls and children are the most vulnerable groups during armed conflicts and all the parties must take necessary action to protect them and preserve their dignity.
Furthermore, CAR hosts 17,624 refugees, including 2,153 Sudanese and 891 Chadian. The Humanitarian Coordinator would like to remind all parties to the conflict CAR’s obligations under the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, the 1967 Protocol as well as the OAU 1969 Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugees in Africa and CAR Law to provide protection to Refugees.
”The people affected by this crisis are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. I therefore encourage all parties involved to pursue dialogue and a peaceful resolution. A secured humanitarian access will enable us to provide critical life-saving assistance to the people affected. Central Africans need our help now and we must not fail”, said the Deputy Head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
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