As of 04 February 2021, over 107,000 persons (estimates by host governments) have fled CAR due to the ongoing conflict while some 100,000 (OCHA estimates) are still displaced within the country.
Since the beginning of this new crisis in CAR, there has been a steady increase in attacks targeting humanitarians which significantly hampers their ability to access and assist affected population across the country.
In this challenging operational context, UNHCR is scaling its operations to assist affected populations in CAR and to the newly arrived refugees in Cameroon, Chad, Congo and DRC.
Political and security situation in Central African Republic
As of 04 February 2021, local authorities in neighbouring countries reported the arrival of over 107,000 individuals who fled CAR due to escalating violence surrounding the presidential and legislative elections held on 27 December 2020. While the vast majority (92,053 persons) reportedly sought safety in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), others fled to Cameroon (5,730), Chad (6,726) and the Republic of Congo (2,984) despite borders between CAR and these countries remaining officially closed due to COVID19-related movement restrictions.
In addition, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), some 100,000 persons are still internally displaced within CAR as a direct result of the post-electoral violence and the ongoing tensions. Most live in deplorable conditions in the bush surrounding their villages for fear of further attacks. New waves of displacement are recorded almost daily and are expected to continue as the conflict shows no signs of abating.
Humanitarians are increasingly targeted, particularly through the looting of offices and the theft of vehicles. According to OCHA, 59 such incidents occurred in December 2020 including one humanitarian worker killed and five others injured, nearly double the monthly average of incidents recorded in 2020. This upward trend continued in January 2021 with 66 incidents, the highest number of incidents ever recorded in a single month. A dire security situation which reduces humanitarian access to the affected population hampers the delivery of assistance while the needs are growing.
In this tense political context, the CAR Constitutional Court validated 22 out of 140 deputies in the first round of legislative election. The court also announced the cancellation of election in 13 constituencies, due to violence, on 1 February. A total of 118 seats remain to be filled in the second round, the date for which has not yet been set.
Since the confirmation of his re-election on 18 January, President Touadéra has also initiated peace efforts which are receiving growing support from religious and traditional leaders. While some armed groups are showing willingness to engage, the political situation remains tense and the conflict shows no signs of abating. To help restore peace and maintain stability and security, a reinforcement of the MINUSCA is also being considered.
In a statement issued on 03 February, the Secretary-General took note of the final results of the first round of legislative elections proclaimed by the Constitutional Court. Mr Guterres also stated that he remained very concerned about armed clashes and threats to civilians in the country and strongly condemned the violence. Reiterating his call for a global ceasefire, the Secretary General urged all parties to immediately halt hostilities. He also declared that perpetrators of grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, as well as serious crimes, including the killing of civilians and UN peacekeepers, must be held accountable.
Population movements and border monitoring
While local authorities in the neighbouring countries reported less new arrivals at the end of January, inside CAR the number of IDPs is increasing.
While scaling up its presence and response in the main hosting areas, UNHCR is working with the authorities to monitor the borders and ensure the new arrivals have access to asylum and that those with specific needs are identified and provided with adequate assistance.
Adding to the nearly 1,3 million people who were already displaced within CAR or in neighbouring countries, this latest displacement crisis brings the number of displaced Central Africans to over 1,5 million, representing almost a third of the country’s total population.