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EU, USAID Back Ongoing IOM Efforts to Find Durable Return Solutions for CAR Displaced

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IOM - A year ago, in January 2014, more than half of the population of Bangui or 400,000 people fled their homes following the outbreak of large-scale violence in and around the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR) to more than 100 different displacement sites.

One year on and IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), which covers Bangui, Boda, Kabo and Moyenne Sido, still lists 42 displacement sites hosting 64,405 people.

According to the last IOM Return Intentions Survey conducted in November 2014, reasons for continued displacement include insecurity in the place of origin, food insecurity, limited access to work and overall economic vulnerability. Other major reasons for remaining displaced continue to be a lack of financial means (66 per cent) and the theft of belongings (64 per cent).

In the context of consultative Bangui Forum and national elections scheduled for later in 2015, the transitional government and the humanitarian community is now focusing on finding durable return solutions for internally displaced people (IDPs).

Through the DTM, which is funded by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) and USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), IOM continues to track displacement and return dynamics, as well as return intentions and reasons for continued displacement in Bangui and beyond. Those who remain displaced today often originate from the most volatile and conflict-affected 3rd and 5th districts of Bangui.

IOM’s European Union (EU)-funded Community Stabilization and Early Recovery programme focuses on the 3rd and 5th district – both of which are areas of high displacement and high return. Supporting the durable return of IDPs is one of the main objectives of the project.

The initiative actively engages with the returning population by including returnees in its cash for work teams. These teams are composed of the most vulnerable community members, people displaced within the districts, returnees and youth at risk. Working with members of the different neighborhoods within the district contributes to an open exchange between the communities. Through teams, IOM is facilitating the cleaning and rehabilitation of public spaces, canals, streets and rain gutters in the neighborhoods.

Delfine, 29, from Yakite, a returnee from the Mpoko airport displacement site, notes: “I have not been to the PK5 neighborhood since the violence in December 2013, even though I used to come here a lot to shop at the market before all this happened. I am now working here near Koudoukou School, which is where I went myself. Now I can walk here without fear and it is great to meet people from other areas.”

The project also supports infrastructure rehabilitation projects chosen by the communities to support the re-establishment of baseline services. These include rehabilitation of four waterpoints in Yambassa, Bulatta, Ramandji and Fondo – all areas of high return for the Mpoko Airport displacement sites. They also include renovating the maternity wing of the local clinic in the 3rd district and building a wall to increase security for reopened schools in Yakite.

IOM is also rehabilitating access bridges to these neighborhoods and is engaging with various civil society actors in the area to facilitate activities aimed at increasing dialogue and social cohesion among different communities, including returnees.

Increasing visible actions in the communities by engaging with community actors directly through a holistic programme aims to support not only the durable return of continuously displaced communities, but also encourages communities to engage in dialogue and accept the advantages of living in mixed ethnic, religious and economic neighborhoods.

While the DTM has provided continuous tracking of the decrease of displacement in Bangui since December 2013 from over 300,000 a year ago to 51,584 people in January 2015, IOM’s Community Stabilization programme has worked with more than 1,000 returnees, who participated in cash for work teams, and supported the return of more than 800 families through work with various civil society actors.

Overall, over 10,000 beneficiaries have participated in the cash for work rotations, more than 15 infrastructure rehabilitation projects are ongoing and almost 150,000 people have participated in various social cohesion activities.

While the Community Stabilization programme is continuing in Bangui until August 2015, IOM is urgently appealing for funds to be able to continue the work undertaken by the DTM teams in order to continue providing information about return intentions, humanitarian needs and movement dynamics to the humanitarian community and development actors.

For more information please contact IOM Bangui:

Torsten Haschenz
Email: thaschenz@iom.int

Maeve O’Donnell
Email: modonnell@iom.int

Anne Schaefer
Email: aschaefer@iom.int

Original article published in IOM.int