This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at the press conference at the Palais des Nations in Geneva
GENEVA, Switzerland, 20 April 2021/ – Recent clashes between government forces and armed groups in the north of the Central African Republic (CAR) forced more than 2,000 refugees to cross the border into Chad last week.
New arrivals from the Kaga-Bandoro region of CAR told our teams that they had fled the fighting, as well as violence, looting and extortion by armed groups, as government forces closed in on them. Others, from Batangafo and Kabo, also headed for Chad for fear of further attacks.
To reach Chad, people have to wade across the Grande Sido River, with water up to their shoulders and some carrying their belongings on their heads. Refugees have reached the village of Gandaza and the border town of Sido, although some have had to return to the CAR to find food or salvage what little is left of their possessions.
Shelter, food and water, as well as access to sanitation and health care, are the most urgent needs of the refugees. UNHCR’s ability to meet these basic needs is severely hampered by a lack of funds and resources.
Renewed violence in northern CAR, caused by an armed rebellion following disputed elections last December, has already uprooted hundreds of thousands of people within the country and to neighbouring countries. The influx had slowed considerably since mid-March, after government forces and their allies regained control of most rebel strongholds, allowing 37,000 former IDPs to return home. These people now need to rebuild their lives.
Chad is currently hosting around 11,000 of the 117,000 Central Africans who have also fled to neighbouring Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Congo, following the post-election violence that also forced 164,000 Central Africans to flee within their country.
The humanitarian crisis in CAR is one of UNHCR’s most severely underfunded operations in the world, with only 12 percent of the US$164.7 million sought being contributed, despite the scale of the displacement. Nearly a third of the Central African population is now uprooted after a decade of instability.
Distributed by APO Group for United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)