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UNHCR Regional Situation Update: Central African Republic Situation, 01-31 May 2017

Situation Report
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UNHCR and other humanitarian organisations are providing emergency assistance following recent waves of violence in the East and South-East regions of the Central African Republic (CAR) which have triggered a new, large-scale displacement of populations. One in every five Central Africans is either internally displaced or has fled to a neighbouring country. The situation is unfolding at a time when CAR faces an already dire humanitarian situation amidst a funding crunch. As at 02 June 2017, UNHCR’s 2017 funding requirements ($209 million) to meet the immediate needs of Central Africans in CAR and across the sub-region stands at only 6 per cent funded. Given the challenges of responding to humanitarian needs at such a scale and across the entire region, early and adequate contributions are vital to ensure timely and planned delivery of protection and aid programmes.


465,253 CAR refugees in the sub-region (as of end May, 2017)

20,806 Central African refugees have spontaneously returned to the country (since the start of the year)

503,600 IDPs in CAR (as of end May, 2017) – source: Commission de Mouvement de Populations


  • The number of internally displaced has increased by 15 per cent in the Central African Republic, with 68,000 displaced mainly in the east/south-east, whilst refugees have continued to return spontaneously.

  • UNHCR has increased its engagement in Cameroon with development partners and donors to encourage medium and long-term investments in refugee-hosting areas.

  • Following a new refugee influx in April in Chad, UNHCR and partners have registered some 1,209 Central Africans who fled the volatile security situation in CAR.

  • In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, some 21,700 new arrivals from CAR have been reported by local authorities in Bas-Uele and North Ubangi provinces, while the figure continues to rise.

    Operational Context

  • In the course of the month of May 2017, over 88,000 people fled their homes inside CAR, mainly in the prefectures of Basse-Kotto, Mbomou, Ouham Pende, Nana-Mambere, Haut- Mbomou and Haute-Kotto, and also to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Populations were forcibly displaced mainly due to armed violence in these areas as well as preventive displacement in other towns where attacks were feared. The total number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) recorded by the Commission de Movement des Populations, an inter-agency forum led by UNHCR, increased by 15 percent, from 440,000 in April to 503,600 in May. Meanwhile, some 21,500 Central Africans fled to DRC, bringing the number of refugees hosted in the sub-region to more than 465,000. This new episode of displacement follows similar populations movements recorded in the past few months. In April for instance, over 40,000 people were displaced as a result of fighting in the north west of CAR (Bocaranga) and in eastern CAR (between Bakouma and Nzako). Some 1,200 people fleeing violence also crossed the borders with Chad and Cameroon.

  • While the security situation in certain parts of CAR remains volatile, not least because of the quasi-absence of law enforcement and administrative structures and institutions beyond the capital city of Bangui, conditions in the south-west are increasingly conducive to IDP returns and spontaneous refugee return. However, considering the current situation inside CAR, UNHCR is not promoting repatriation of refugees and will, at this stage, only facilitate voluntary returns of very limited numbers of refugees to areas considered secure and accessible to humanitarian actors.

  • These developments are unfolding at a time when CAR is already facing a dire situation; over half of the population of the CAR requires humanitarian assistance to survive and 2 million people are food insecure. An estimated 50 percent of health services are provided by the humanitarian community, two thirds of the population still has no access to health care. Furthermore, the World Food Programme (WFP) continues to face a critical lack of funding in countries affected by the CAR crisis. In eastern Cameroon, WFP is distributing half-rations to CAR refugees, while in Chad, WFP suspended food assistance to 66,800 returnees from January to March, in order to prioritize available resources during the lean season.

  • Humanitarian access in many of the areas affected by displacement, in CAR and north-DRC remains severely restricted due to the security situation. Populations tend to flee to very remote areas, away from main roads. UNHCR was however able to provide, through an inter- agency response, relief items for the newly displaced (see below for additional details).