UNHCR West and Central Africa Update - 28 October 2019
6.5 million people of concern
1.3 million refugees
30,000 asylum seekers
4.7 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)
4 situations: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Mali and Nigeria
138,720 Malian refugees: in Mauritania (56,184), Niger (56,815) and Burkina Faso (25,721).
751,434 IDPs: in Burkina Faso (486,360), Mali (187,139) and Niger (77,935)
243,875 Nigerian refugees in Niger (119,541), Cameroon (108,335) and Chad (15,999)
2,532,125 IDPs in Nigeria (2,018,513), Cameroon (270,870), Chad (133,338) and Niger (109,404)
Central African Republic situation:
590,642 Central African refugees in Cameroon (291,803) in Chad (103,562) in the DRC (173,079) and in the Republic of Congo (22,198)
44,524 Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria
Voluntary repatriation – Côte d’Ivoire: A total of 1,893 Ivorian refugees have repatriated since January 2019.
Political and security developments
In the Sahel region, since the beginning of the year, security incidents continue to be recorded on an almost daily basis, primarily against state institutions, security services, schools, religious places of worship and health centers. Insecurity continues to thrive and spread beyond the Sahel region, targeting more and more civilians while exploiting underlying social tensions. Displacement patterns in the sub-region remain complex. The UN Secretary General, at a special high-level meeting on the Sahel during the UN General Assembly, told world leaders that humanitarian and development responses for Mali and Africa’s wider Sahel region “are falling short”, and support must be scaled up to ensure a hopeful future for its people.
In Burkina Faso, UNHCR and partners recently warned about the escalating humanitarian crisis currently unfolding in the central and northern regions due to increasing attacks. Most recently, the Governors of the regions of the Sahel, Centre and Centre-Nord have imposed curfews in order to restrict certain movements at certain hours, with a view to mitigating the incessant attacks. Following the most recent attack on a mosque in the commune of Salmossi on 11 October, the UN Secretary General expressed his condolences to the people of Burkina Faso and condemned the attack. This violence and social instability is plunging Burkina Faso into an unprecedented humanitarian crisis characterized by mass internal displacement.
The Malian government reported that on 30 October, al-Qaida-affiliated groups attacked two military bases in the Centre-Nord region; with 40 reported killed and 60 missing Hundreds of wives and children of Malian soldiers demonstrated in the capital Bamako, demanding information on the incident.
A National Dialogue took place in Cameroon from 30 September-5 October, an event called upon by the President in an attempt to ease the ongoing crisis in the North West and South West regions. A series of recommendations were made including the equality of English and French speakers, giving greater autonomy to the provinces and offering amnesty to fighters who down arms. The ongoing crisis which began in 2016 has led to the displacement of more than 500,000 within Cameroon and some 45,000 refugees in Nigeria.
The Regional Dialogue on Protection and Solutions in the context of forced-displacements in the Sahel region took place from 11-12 September in Bamako, Mali. The Dialogue, hosted by the Government of Mali and UNHCR, and including Government officials and partners from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania and Niger, reconfirmed the need to search for durable solutions for persons forced to flee while ensuring that protection of civilians remains at the core of all interventions.
Drawing from the Dialogue in Bamako, Ministers and Government representatives from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger - G5 Sahel - reaffirmed their commitments to protect civilians in a context of counterterrorism operations in the Sahel at the margins of UNHCR’s annual Executive Committee (ExCom) meeting in Geneva on 9 October. They also pledged to reduce intercommunity violence, ensure access to asylum and protection against forced returns. UNHCR’s High Commissioner, offered support to the regional efforts to maintain the civilian and humanitarian nature of asylum and to facilitate humanitarian access.
Escalating violence in the Nigerian states of Sokoto, Zamfara and Katsina in northwestern Nigeria (by groups other than Boko Haram) has led to a new humanitarian emergency in Niger’s border regions (particularly Maradi with 45,000 refugees). They have arrived in more than 50 villages in the departments of Guidan Roumji, Guidan Sori and Tibiri.
Violent demonstrations have taken place in Guinea during the week of 14 October leading to the deaths of 9 people. Guinea has been in political limbo for several weeks over uncertainty President Alpha Condé will attempt to change the constitution to allow him to run for a third term in the 2020 presidential elections.