Central African Republic: UNHCR Launches U.S.$430 Million Plan for Refugees

Mborgene camp in Eastern Cameroon (file photo).

The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, has launched a $430 million campaign to help displaced people and refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR). Over a million CAR residents have been internally displaced or made refugees by years of inter-communal fighting. More than a quarter million of them are living in neighboring Cameroon.

Rosine Ngaxi Alzina, 24, sings a lullaby for her two-week-old baby to sleep.

She sings that God, who helped them escape safely last month from the Central Africa Republic to Cameroon, will provide for them.

Alzina delivered her baby boy two weeks after arriving at the Gado Badjere refugee camp. She looks sick and tired.

Alzina said she was raped by armed gangs after her husband was killed in inter-communal fighting.

She said she was traumatized and is not thinking of returning to the Central African Republic. She would not be able to sleep because of the endless gunfire, suffering, and killings, said Alzina. Although she is not sure of where to get her next meal, she said, she prefers to stay where there is peace.

A steady trickle of refugees like Alzina ensure the camp’s population continues to grow -- this month it hit 27,000.

Gado Badjere Health Center Nurse Bernice Mulangal said an average of 60 to 70 babies are born in the camp every month. She said less than a third of the women know who the fathers are because many were raped or worked as prostitutes.

Rape cases

She said some of the women confide to them that while in Cameroon they were raped on farms where they go to work. Others were raped by armed gangs in CAR before they escaped. Mulangal says wives lost their husbands to the war in CAR but they lack the means to help the women medically and psychologically.

The UNHCR says fighting in the CAR has produced over half a million refugees and even more internally displaced.

A lull in fighting in some areas allowed nearly a quarter million displaced to return home in 2018. But others like Alzina continue to flee unrest.

More than half the population, nearly 3 million people, are dependent on aid.

The UNHCR on Monday launched a $430 million dollar plan for the Central African Republic from its capital, Bangui.

'Desperate situation'

Humanitarian Coordinator Najat Rochdi said the CAR is in a very desperate situation.

"I will just want to mention the tragic situation in Central African Republic. In one year time we had an increase of 70 percent of central Africans who are displaced," said Rochdi.

CAR has been beset with conflict since the Seleka, a coalition of Muslim rebels, forced President Francois Bozize from office in 2013.

The country has since been plagued by communal violence - mainly between Christian and Muslim militants.

Though the country held elections in February 2016, the government has been unable to stem the conflict.

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