Central African Republic refugee influx to Cameroon

Violence associated with the Anti-Balaka insurrection in the Central African Republic (CAR) led to a sharp increase in refugees fleeing to Cameroon in early 2014.

Although the fighting is between two religious groups – the Christian AntiBalaka and the Muslim Séléka rebels – and is often presented as a religious conflict, the violence is underpinned by issues of land rights and poverty.

ACT members have struggled to provide relief for people inside the CAR because of security concerns. Therefore, while access has been restricted, efforts have turned to supporting refugees outside of the country, the largest group currently being in Cameroon.

Some 118,000 people arrived in the country in the first six months of the year, bringing the estimated total to 225,000. Over half of them were children, approximately 20 per cent under the age of five, and only three per cent were thought to be elderly.

To accommodate the influx of refugees in 2014, the Government of Cameroon, together with the UNHCR, made seven sites available and designated 308 host villages.

Due to the complex nature of the crisis, refugee needs were broad ranging. ACT members carried out situation and needs assessments, finding the most prevalent needs to be enhanced protection, psychosocial support, livelihoods, peace building and social cohesion.

Further efforts were also made by ACT members to improve the lives of the refugees, through mobilising resources to provide non-food items including clothing and finance. Church structures were used to host refugees, and infrastructure was renovated to improve bed space capacity and sanitation in hospitals.