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UNICEF Central African Republic Flash Update, 15 January 2021

Publication date

Context and humanitarian situation

In the run-up to the 27 December presidential and general elections and following the invalidation of former president Francois Bozizé’s candidacy by the Constitutional Court, a new coalition of a number of armed groups - Coalition des Patriotes pour le Changement (CPC) – was formed, asking for the elections to be postponed.

The CPC launched an offensive from the West towards Bangui on the 18th of December, and others from the East and North in the following days. The national army, the MINUSCA’s peacekeepers and bilateral allies have resisted the CPC progression. Still the coalition has managed to attack and/or occupy a number of cities and towns. These include Bossangoa, Bossembele, Yaloke, Boali, Mbaiki, Boda, Beloko, Dekoa and Bouar in the West, and Bambari, Grimari,
Bakouma and Bangassou in the East. Clashes between rebel factions also occurred in Bouca. On 13 January, armed elements launched coordinated attacks on the outskirts of the capital Bangui, which was repelled. The main border crossing and trade route to Cameroon is essentially closed, and over a thousand trucks carrying trade goods for CAR are blocked at the border according to MINUSCA.

UNICEF’s rapid response mechanism (RRM) has issued 14 new alerts since 17 December, all related to displacement. However, the humanitarian consequences of this new crisis are still only partially known. The situation is very volatile, a number of aid organizations have evacuated their personnel from the areas affected by the CPC offensive or reduced their footprint, and ongoing fighting severely impedes access. OCHA estimated - on 8 January - that 63,800 people were newly displaced and 83 have died. This does not include the recent attack on Bangui, which caused further displacement, and 38 deaths according to MINUSCA. Four peacekeepers are among the victims.

Internally displaced people (IDPs) are found mostly in locations considered safer within the affected towns, such as churches, or in the surrounding bush. The total number of people having fled their homes at some point since 18 December is most likely higher. Based on initial assessments, interventions and secondary data, the most pressing humanitarian needs include food, primary healthcare, water and sanitation, essential household items and shelter. Child protection issues such as child recruitments, sexual violence and separation have also been reported. According to UNHCR, around 30,900 Central African have also fled to neighboring countries in the past few weeks, mostly to DRC.