UNHCR appeals for access as Central African displacement soars


The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said it is appealing for humanitarian access to reach tens of thousands of people in dire need after they fled escalating violence, clashes, and military operations in the Central African Republic (CAR).

A statement released by the UN Agency on Friday stated that increasing attacks against humanitarian workers and blocked key supply routes have been hampering UNHCR and other humanitarian organizations’ ability to assist internally displaced Central Africans.

“The humanitarian situation has deteriorated, increasing the suffering of an already vulnerable population,” the statement read adding that humanitarians have been targeted and have had their offices looted and their vehicles stolen.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 66 such incidents occurred in January, the highest number ever recorded in a single month in CAR. In December 2020, one humanitarian worker was killed, and five others injured.

Since December when the crisis began, OCHA estimates that more than 100,000 people have been displaced inside CAR. Most are living in deplorable conditions in the bush for fear of fresh attacks on their villages.

According to figures from state authorities in neighbouring countries, at least 107,000 people have also fled across borders into the Democratic Republic of the Congo (92,053), Cameroon (5,730), Chad (6,726), and the Republic of Congo (2,984). This brings the total number of Central Africans displaced in their country and across the region to over 1.5 million – nearly a third of the country’s total population of 4.8 million.

UNHCR said that it continues to receive reports of grave human rights violations inside CAR, including arbitrary arrest, illegal detention, torture, extortion, armed robbery, assault, restricted movement, expropriation and looting.

“We reiterate our call for meaningful dialogue to de-escalate tensions, as well as sustained and robust support from the international community to ensure that the effective humanitarian response is resumed and prospects for solutions are strengthened,” the statement concluded.