Fresh CAR violence drives thousands to Chad

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch to whom quoted text may be attributed at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is registering and helping thousands of new refugees arriving in Chad, mostly women and children fleeing a recent flare-up in violence in the northwest of the Central African Republic (CAR).

More than 5,000 refugees are estimated to have arrived in southern Chad since late December, escaping clashes between the armed groups Mouvement national pour la libération de la Centrafrique (MNLC) and Révolution et Justice (RJ) in the town of Paoua. Located in CAR’s prefecture of Ouham-Pendé, the town also has an additional 20,000 people displaced internally.

With our government partners in Chad, UNHCR has so far registered some 2,350 new refugees in the village of Odoumian, located some 15 kilometres from the CAR border.

Many of the refugees trekked on foot to cross into the departments of Nya-Pende and Lam Mountains in Chad. Local officials say some 5,600 refugees have arrived since December 27, 2017, when the recent fighting started. Over 1,000 new refugees are also reported to have arrived at existing camps for CAR refugees near the town of Goré.

The influx is the largest movement of refugees from CAR, exceeding the total number for 2017, when about 2,000 fled into Chad. Many are reporting widespread human rights abuses committed by the members of these armed groups in villages alongside the CAR-Chad border.

The border with CAR is officially closed. UNHCR welcomes the humanitarian gesture of the Chadian authorities in allowing refugees seeking international protection inside its territory despite the closure.

The UN Refugee Agency is also helping Chadian authorities to register and aid refugees. With its partners, UNHCR is also providing medical check-ups for the many refugees arriving in poor health, some unable to walk.

Chad hosts over 75,000 refugees from CAR – out of the total 545,000 hosted in all neighbouring countries.

Inside CAR, the humanitarian situation significantly deteriorated during the second half of 2017. Armed violence and attacks against humanitarians and peacekeepers have provoked a 50 per cent increase in the number of internally displaced people – bringing the total number from 400,000 in May to 600,000 by the end of the year. The total number of refugees and internally displaced is the highest ever recorded for CAR – almost one-fourth of the population of around 4.6 million.