“We are deeply concerned by the alarming rise in displacement. The number of people displaced has not been higher since the height of the conflict in 2013/14. And while some people may be able to return soon, we know from experience that many will not, and some may end up living in displacement for years,” says David Manan, country director for the Norwegian Refugee Council in CAR.
A total of 109,000 people have fled CAR and sought protection in neighbouring countries since the conflict escalated in mid-December, ahead of the general elections. Another 100,000 people have been forced to flee within the country, according to a new update from UNHCR.
Those displaced are doubly affected by the widespread violence and a severe lack of humanitarian aid. Insecurity combined with disruptions along the main supply road between CAR and Cameroon is delaying the delivery of food and medicines to affected areas.
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Aid supplies are unable to get through
“The main route into the country is still largely disrupted, driving up food prices and hampering the timely delivery of humanitarian supplies. In addition, ongoing conflict and insecurity is delaying the delivery of aid to several parts of the country,” says Manan.
“We appeal to all parties to the conflict to allow essential goods and supplies to reach people in need.”
Displaced people are struggling to find something to eat and many depend on support from humanitarian organisations and generous host communities.
Anne Kobangue was returning home from church on the morning of 19 January when she saw armed men appearing from the bush. She fled her village and has sought safety in Liton, outside the capital Bangui.
“Since we have been here, we have stayed under this tree,” she told us. “We are on the ground. We are suffering a lot and we have nothing to eat. It was the good people who brought us cassava leaves. The price of cassava has risen and we can’t afford it.”
Children are being recruited to fight
Some 2.8 million people – more than half the population – were already in need of humanitarian assistance before the conflict escalated in December last year. Many people are unable to put food on the table and are finding themselves in a desperate situation.
Children are increasingly exposed to recruitment by armed groups for as little as 30 US dollars each. Many will carry the scars and trauma for the rest of their lives.
In 2021 so far, almost 3,000 children have been recruited by groups across the country, according to UN figures.
“It is a sad reminder of how we, as an international community, have failed to protect these young people or provide them with opportunities and hope for a better future,” says Manan.