Crisis in CAR: IOM’s Response (October 2014)
By: Torsten Haschenz, IOM-CAR Chief of Mission
In December 2013, when sectarian and inter-communal violence erupted in and around Bangui, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) arrived in the Central African Republic to support humanitarian operations. Thousands of civilians were killed, and hundreds of thousands were displaced internally or fled the country. The UN estimates that 2.5 million people – out of a population of about 4 million – were initially in need of humanitarian aid.
In response to migration issues arising from the crisis, IOM established an office in CAR in January 2014. IOM now operates from a head office in Bangui and two sub-offices, one in Boda (en ethnically mixed community 200 km west of Bangui) and the other in Kabo wich covers also Moyen Sido in northern CAR, close to the border with Chad.
IOM’s migration assistance in CAR centres on camp coordination and camp management, displacement tracking, shelter construction for IDPs and returnees, and return assistance to stranded foreign nationals and other vulnerable groups. In an effort to prevent further internal and external displacement, IOM promotes community stabilisation and social cohesion. For example, IOM implements a ‘cash-for-work’ project aiming to benefit a total of up to 10.000 beneficiaries by engaging them in paid daily labour for a period of 10 days each. While in this first phase, disadvantaged community members are able to earn cash to support their families and small business investments, IOM plans to expand the geographical coverage and scope of the project during 2015 and beyond. IOM also implemented social cohesion activities in the 3rd and 5th districts to retain the presence of mixed communities in Bangui.
Our work in CAR is not finished and in the next few months IOM aims to support the return process of displaced people in Bangui, reinforce its presence near CAR’s borders to effectively assist the displaced population, further expand community stabilisation activities, and explore other traditional areas of IOM’s work such as integrated border and migration management, migration and development, return of qualified nationals, out of country voting, law enforcement and rule of law.
The ongoing crisis has had extensive humanitarian, economic, political and security implications for CAR and the neighbouring countries, including Cameroon, Chad, Congo, DRC, Sudan and South Sudan. The crisis has caused large population movements inside the country and across its borders.
IOM remains committed to supporting the efforts of the Transitional Government and the international community in the Central African Republic to fully respond to the crisis.