Credit: UNICEF/Jan Grarup
Almost all the inhabitants of the city of Bria in Central African Republic (CAR) have fled the city in search of safety over the past two weeks as violent clashes escalated between rival armed groups.
In response to the mass exodus of about 38,500 people in just three days (on top of the 3,000 people who have remained displaced since November), the Minister of Social Affairs and the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the country issued a call for international support: “The resurgence of the last outbreaks of tension (…) has caused the displacement of about 100,000 people across the country. In addition, burned-down houses, plundered food supplies and goods are all new needs that the humanitarian community will have to meet while financial resources are stagnating,” they said, warning that violence may spread further. Most of those who fled are setting up makeshift camps nearby the base of the MINUSCA peacekeeping operation.
This is the worst displacement CAR has seen since the peak of its crisis in 2013, when Seleka rebels overthrew the Government, resulting in widespread violence, severe human rights violations and mass looting, which sent hundreds of thousands of people to flee into the forest, or to public buildings, religious sites and displacement camps.
In 2013, one year old Exouce and his family were among the over 100,000 people who fled the violence and sought refuge at the Bangui airport. Credit: OCHA/Phil Moore
Humanitarian stocks are running dangerously low and aid agencies are struggling to meet even basic needs of protection, shelter, food, water and healthcare. Halfway through the year, donors have committed only one third of the US$399.5 million Humanitarian Response Plan.
Clashes have been mounting since the beginning of 2017, and the total number of IDPs has reached 500,000. The latest emergency in Bria comes at a time when humanitarian partners are also ramping up their response in Bangassou, and Alindao in south-eastern CAR and elsewhere, where people continue to need assistance to survive. “A multiplication of hot spots and needs could lead to a large-scale crisis, the consequences of which could be more serious than in 2013 as the humanitarian response in the CAR is still largely underfunded,” said the Humanitarian Coordinator in a statement.