Three years after armed groups in the Central African Republic signed a ceasefire agreement, more than one million people are displaced. “The number of families displaced from their homes has increased to a level we have not witnessed since the peak of the conflict in 2014,” warned Eric Batonon, Country Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).
More than 100,000 people have fled their homes in the Central African Republic since April, due to renewed fighting in several parts of the country. In total, 534,000 people are now displaced within the country and another 481,000 people are living as refugees in neighbouring countries. Political turmoil and continued conflict have also left half of the population in need of humanitarian assistance.
"We thought that the 2014 ceasefire would bring us peace and social cohesion, but now we are seeing the opposite. I left Bambari to find a safer place, after members of the ex-Seleka burnt our house and killed my brother,” said Frank Pabingui, a newly displaced father of two, to NRC staff in Sibut.
“We need to wake up to the fact that the Central African Republic is again spiralling into a devastating crisis. Closing our eyes to the current crisis won’t make it disappear, but only allow it to escalate,” said Batonon.
Lack of international attention to the crisis has been matched with a similar lack of funding. Halfway into the year, less than 30 percent of the funding required to meet the humanitarian needs in 2017 has been received.
“There is an urgent need for more funding to ensure that people receive the most basic life-saving assistance. Most of the newly displaced were forced to flee suddenly, leaving everything behind. They need food, clean drinking water, shelter, sanitation facilities and medical care. If we are not able to step up the support now, the dramatic humanitarian situation may fuel further conflicts,” said Batonon.
Three years ago, 23 July 2014, Seleka rebels and the anti-Balaka militia signed a ceasefire agreement, after one and a half year of conflict. The agreement was a first step towards a decrease in hostilities, but many issues remained unsolved and since November last year, the conflict has again escalated and spread to new parts of the country. In June this year, a peace deal was signed by 13 out of 14 armed groups in the country. The day after the peace agreement was signed, dozens of people were killed in new clashes in Bria in the east.
“The peace agreement brought hope, but this hope has been shattered by the increase in violence and new displacement during the last weeks”, said Batonon.
“All armed parties should stick to the agreement and work towards a lasting peace in the country. The combination of conflict, under-development, lack of public services like schools and health facilities, and high levels of acute malnutrition becomes a toxic cocktail, claiming too many civilian lives,” he added.
(c) 2017 Norwegian Refugee Council