With stories about Syria taking precedence in the media, one can be forgiven for not knowing what is happening in the Central African Republic (CAR). E McGrath updates you on what is possibly the most dire refugee crisis of last year: a crisis which is only getting worse.
A number of sources have recently reported the number of displaced people from the CAR to be one million. This is out of a population of only around 5 million. There are 57 refugee camps in the city of Bengui alone, a further 100,000 people are taking refuge at the Bengui airport. The camps are poorly managed and overcrowded, and many people are forced into these camps without supplies needed for day to day living. With various, disparate groups of people in close contact and much of the violence in the country becoming increasingly racially based, the camps have ironically become hotspots for violence. This is in a place where people flee to thinking they will be safe, which is evidently not always the case, causing many to flee to neighboring countries. Approximately 220,000 people have taken refuge in nearby countries such as Chad, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Sudan.
It is not only those who flee violence who have faced hardships. The whole economy and peoples’ livelihoods have been greatly disrupted, even for those in relatively safe areas of the country. Many people have lost their land or have been unable to buy seeds for the next growing season. Resources in neighboring countries are also stretched. Chad for example does not have enough resources for the 80,000 CAR refugees, let alone the 20,000 natives of Chad who have returned from CAR following the violence. With no end in sight for the violence in CAR, these refugee camps are likely to become places of long term residence for these people.
The Central African Republic (CAR) has had a long history as an unstable democracy. However, politically motivated violence has never been this bad. In November 2013, various sources, such as the French government and the UN declared the country on the verge of genocide.
For more information on what is happening see: