Central African Republic: A quarter of the population on the move

For almost 2 years the Central African Republic has been torn apart by reoccurring waves of sectarian violence. The deteriorating situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) once again came to light in December of 2013 when the predominantly Christian nation became gripped by violence, after a majority Muslim group, the Seleka, seized power. The latest violence was sparked in Bambari when conflicts once again arose between the Christian and Muslim fighter groups. On Monday, at least 3 people were killed and 5 injured amid the country’s growing violence.
What is inevitable amongst all this violence is the huge masses of people that flee their homes in search of safety. Since December 2013, approximately 25% of CAR’s population have been displaced. The current number of displaced individuals stands at 360 ,000 according to the UNHCR. Among those, 36,900 of them have come from Bungai and 60,000 from Bambari alone. When the violent conflicts were at their most volatile, it was reported that the number of displaced people, at 52,000, quickly reached 958,000 in January 2014. Many villages remain abandoned, with some people taking refuge in fields and bushes in the moments immediately following the outbreaks of violence.
As the violence continues and thousands leave their homes, neighbouring countries have been forced to take drastic measures in fear of the strain that these large influxes of people crossing over to their country could have on their borders. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) did just that when they closed their northern borders after having already received 97,195 people. Chad and Cameroon are also part of the countries that have taken in the many refugees leaving their homes in desperation.
With the great necessity to flee the insecurity and violence, comes the great need to cater for the individuals that now seek shelter and a safe haven elsewhere. Many who leave their homes turn churches, disused factories and nearby UN bases into their temporary lodging. Unsurprisingly, these places are overcrowded and unsanitary. In such poor conditions, the door is open to disease and sickness, leaving the most vulnerable at risk.
Doctors Without Borders (DWB) say that “two years of political crises have exacerbated the countries pre-existing shortage of health services”. Not only is there shortage of resources but the addition of persistent insecurities and the instabilities in current affairs in the nation mean that humanitarian efforts are hampered and many suffer in the camps without enough food, water or medical care. Around 70% of children no longer attend schools and, tragically, a small number are being used as child soldiers.