UN Launches Multimillion Dollar Appeal for Uprooted Central Africans

GENEVA - The U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, is appealing for $164 million to assistance and protect nearly 1.5 million Central Africans uprooted by conflict and violence.

Civil conflict in the Central African Republic has uprooted about one-third of the country’s population of 4.7 million, most now refugees in neighboring countries.

A new wave of violence triggered by December’s disputed presidential election in the CAR. has added to the nearly 1.3 million refugees in the region. The U.N. Refugee Agency says 100,000 more people are newly displaced inside the CAR. It says another 111,000 people have joined the exodus to neighboring countries.

UNHCR spokesman Boris Cheshirkov says most of the refugees have gone to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The rest have sought refuge in Cameroon, Chad, and the Republic of the Congo.

“New arrivals are reporting grave human rights abuses inside CAR. Our colleagues in Gore, in Chad, are caring for a 26-year-old refugee mother who was beaten and raped by a rebel with her six-month-old baby by her side after fleeing her home. She is now pregnant as a result of the assault and is receiving medical and psychosocial support from our teams,” Cheshirkov said.

The CAR is one of the poorest countries and one of the most underfunded emergencies in the world. The UNHCR says it urgently needs financial contributions to deliver protection and assistance to the rising number of vulnerable people inside the CAR and in host countries.

Despite limited resources, Cheshirkov said the UNHCR has scaled up border and protection monitoring. He said it also is supporting survivors of sexual violence and helping to mitigate the risk of further gender-based violence.

“We are also working to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infections by building and equipping quarantine centers and areas for treatment and isolation, as well as testing, distributing masks, raising awareness on COVID-19 prevention and social distancing, by improving water, sanitation and health resources,” Cheshirkov said.

The UNHCR says the situation is particularly challenging in the DRC. It reports many of the 92,000 newly-arrived refugees are spread among 40 remote places close to the volatile border. It notes the new arrivals now outnumber the local population, adding that refugees are living in makeshift shelters, without access to vital services such as education and health care.

Source: Voice of America