Crisis in CAR: IOM’s Response (August 2014)

By: Giuseppe Loprete, 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 – are 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 with two sub-offices in Kabo and Moyen Sido in northern CAR.

IOM’s mission in CAR centres on providing humanitarian assistance to stranded migrants; logistical support to movements of foreign nationals and other vulnerable groups; camp management and displacement tracking activities; and community stabilisation and social cohesion projects.

In the seven months since the office was established, IOM has aided in the voluntary evacuation of 11,801 foreign nationals fleeing violence; established the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) to track population movements; provided about 19,000 health consultations in Boda and Bangui; organized five food distributions in Bangui, Boda, and Kabo; provided cash-for-work community stabilisation activities for 3,550 people; and organized 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, expand community stabilisation activities, and explore other traditional areas of IOM’s work like migration and development, return of qualified nationals, out of country voting, law enforcement and rule of law.

The ongoing crisis has extensive humanitarian, economic, political and security implications for CAR and for the region, 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.

Return Intention Survey in Bangui

IOM’s seventh IDP Return Intention Survey indicates that 80 per cent of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Bangui, Central African Republic (CAR) intend to return to their areas of origin in the next month.

The survey was conducted 10th-15th July with 606 IDPs at 29 IDP sites around the capital.

Availability of housing (39 per cent) is now the top priority for IDPs considering return, replacing security.

The principal survival mechanisms used by IDPs to cope with displacement during the last two weeks are: reducing the number of meals eaten per day (97 per cent), reducing family members’ food consumption (96 per cent), reducing adults’ consumption in order to feed children (95 per cent), and not eating for an entire day (87 per cent).

There are 102,000 displaced persons in Bangui at 40 displacement sites, according to the Commission on Population Movement (as of 5 August). This represents a decline of over 3,000 displaced at three fewer sites than in early July.

Every month, IOM in Central African Republic collects data on the intentions of people displaced by the conflict to return to their place of origin. This data is gathered using the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), a tool developed by IOM to survey the needs and living conditions of displaced persons worldwide.

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IOM Graphic Novel Contributes to Social Cohesion


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IOM designed a graphic novel based on real-life stories of the beneficiaries of its community stabilization project, which aims to promote social cohesion among mixed communities in Bangui. The graphic novel describes, from beneficiaries’ perspectives, the effects of IOM’s cash-for-work activities and efforts to encourage peaceful cohabitation in Bangui communities. The content of the novel was drawn from beneficiaries’ stories of how they found out about the project, why they wanted to participate in cash-for-work activities, and how they used the money they earned to start new lives for themselves and their families.

While participating in cash-for-work activities, such as cleaning gutters or repairing bridges, many beneficiaries like to sing songs about their work. This inspired local singer/songwriter Yves to compose an anthem specifically about IOM’s community stabilization project. The French-language song, which plays over the comic book, is being recorded in several local languages including Sango and Arabic. 

IOM Supports Community Stabilization in Bangui

‘Travaillons en unité pour la cohésion sociale à Miskine” is a community theatre production written by members of the Association Nationale des Artistes Comediens in coordination with the IOM Community Stabilization Unit. The play highlights themes of peace and reconciliation, and promotes peaceful cohabitation in the mixed fifth district in Bangui. The play was performed by two comedians and a woman from the fifth district on August 13, 2014 in Bangui. IOM’s Community Stabilization Unit is supported by the European Union.

IOM Promotes Social Cohesion in Bangui

 

IOne of the major objectives of IOM’s Community Stabilization project, funded by the European Union, is to promote social cohesion among mixed communities in Bangui. IOM works closely with local associations to identify projects that originate from the community and will contribute to peaceful cohabitation among mixed ethnic and religious groups. View photo story

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