Every year, World Refugee Day is observed on June 20. It is an opportunity for organizations to highlight the plight of refugees across the world, and make the case for enhanced support – both in terms of providing the necessary humanitarian assistance to today’s refugees but also exhorting the international community to strengthen strategies and programs to help reduce the staggering numbers over time.
Today, we look at the displacement figures in the Central African Republic, where a civil conflict has been raging for more than a year.
– Between 557,000 and 625,000 = overall number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Central African Republic, representing approximately 12% of the population.
– 94,000 = number of internally displaced persons in the CAR in early 2012.
– Between 136,000 and 207,000 = number of internally displaced people in the capital, Bangui. A major decrease since December 2013, when 500,000 people were displaced in Bangui alone.
– Approximately 226,000 = number of CAR refugees in Cameroon, Chad, DRC, and Congo, representing approximately 5% of the population.
– Approximately 90,000 = number of CAR refugees in Cameroon. Of the US$22.6 million UNHCR is seeking to help this population, so far just US$4.2 million has been received.
– Approximately 90,000 = number of CAR refugees in Chad (includes 14,000 arrivals since March 2013.) There are also approximately 400,000 South Sudanese refugees in Chad due to the conflict in that country – many of the half million refugees in Chad have recently arrived.
– Approximately 50,000 = number of CAR refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo (includes refugees from before the conflict erupted in March 2013.) In December 2013, there were 2.6 million IDPs in the DRC – of which only about 500,000 were assisted by the UNHCR
– Approximately 16,000 = number of CAR refugees in the Republic of Congo (arrivals since March 2013.) Only about 19% of the funds requested in the Global Appeal have been released
While the Central African Republic has, for a long time, produced refugees and IDPs, the current crisis highlights a dramatic rise in displaced persons. It is worth noting, however, that both the number of overall displaced persons and the rate at which people are fleeing has been decreasing since December 2013. This is a good sign – people are able to return home in some cases, and the security situation is such that fewer people feel compelled to leave – but it is critical for the international community, and particularly donors, to continue to provide the financial support necessary to meet the needs of the displaced populations. Many of those who remain displaced are the most vulnerable – unable to return home, and with no plans to do so in the immediate future.
The Central African Republic’s displacement crisis is also marked by the fact that the vast majority of displaced persons are internally displaced, and as such do not technically fall under the mandate of the UNHCR – only about half of the internally displaced are supported by UNHCR in the CAR. Furthermore, as we reflect on the global displacement crisis on June 20, it is important to highlight the plight of those displaced who do not cross international borders. In the Central African Republic, with 12% of the population internally displaced, long-term, lasting peace will depend on creating a situation where people are able to return home and rebuild their lives.