Humanitarian crisis in Central African Republic among world’s worst: UN

United Nations : The humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR), with over 187,000 refugees fleeing over the last year, is one of the world’s worst, the UN Refugee Agency has said.

This has brought the total number of refugees and internally displaced people to over 850,000, which is about a fifth of the CAR’s entire population.

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The figure was half a million less than that at the end of Dec 2013, after the capital Bangui was captured by the anti-Balaka militia, an event that triggered fresh violence and displacement, according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Xinhua reported Friday.

Insecurity quickly degenerated into chaos, displacing close to one million people inside the country and across its borders.

“The security situation in the country remains volatile, with sporadic incidents of violence (being) witnessed in October, when clashes broke out between militias and international forces,” UNHCR spokesman William Spindler said Friday.

“Some 430,000 people remain internally displaced,” he said.

UNHCR and its partners presented a Regional Refugee Response Plan in 2014 that included financial requirements of $209 million. The response is currently only 51 percent funded.

Spindler urged donors and the international community “to provide continued support and hope to the beleaguered citizens of the CAR”.

“Nearly two years of violence in the CAR has affected more than two million children and plunged the country’s formal education system into a state of crisis,” said Sarah Crowe of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

UNICEF had launched a campaign in November to help hundreds of thousands of children return to school after deterioration in the security situation forced many teachers and students to flee.

The “Back to School” initiative aimed to help a total of 662,000 children resume their studies, and the UNICEF is delivering “school in a box” kits that contain essential equipments, such as exercise books, pencils and school backpacks to enable children to resume their education.

Currently, 300,000 children were reported back in school and this has been a significant development.

Ethnic tensions in the north of the CAR and the presence of the Lord’s Resistance Army, an armed group known for its brutal tactics, have added to the instability.

Plagued by decades of instability and fighting, the CAR witnessed a resurgence of violence last December when the Seleka rebels launched a series of attacks, culminating in March when the then President Francois Bozize was forced to flee as the rebels seized control of the capital.