The U.N. refugee agency reported Friday that violence surrounding last month’s election in Central African Republic has sent tens of thousands of people fleeing for their lives to neighboring countries and to safer areas within CAR.
More than 30,000 refugees are estimated to have fled to neighboring Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Republic of Congo since December 27.
The U.N. refugee agency says the violence and insecurity related to the general election has displaced tens of thousands more people inside the Central African Republic.
The four other countries already are hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees from the CAR and other conflict countries. UNHCR spokesman Boris Cheshirkov says the new influx of refugees is placing a huge strain on local resources.
“Most arrivals are staying with host communities or in makeshift shelters. They urgently need water, shelter, access to health and adequate sanitation to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases," said Cheshirkov. "We are working closely with national and local authorities, and humanitarian partners to support some of the most vulnerable.”
The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian affairs says 185,000 people from more than two dozen locations inside CAR have fled into the bush and forests since December 15.
Cheshirkov says most have abandoned their homes in the face of surging pre-election violence. While 113,000 since have returned home, he says an estimated 62,000 are still displaced.
“We are concerned about reports of human rights violations taking place inside CAR and we urge governments in all neighboring countries to continue granting access to asylum and supporting local authorities to register the new arrivals," said Cheshirkov.
The UNHCR is helping governments register new arrivals and U.N. aid agencies are providing food, health and other relief.
After many years in exile, the voluntary repatriation of Central African Republic refugees from Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo had restarted in November. Given the current postelection upheaval, Cheshirkov says this operation now has been put on hold.