Tens of thousands of Central Africans hiding in bush, UN official says

Tens of thousands of Central Africans hiding in bush, UN official says

Toby Lanzer, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Central African Republic
A major portion of the 200,000 people internally displaced within the Central African Republic (CAR) – due to fear of armed groups – are hiding in the bush not far from their homes and international assistance must reach them there, a United Nations humanitarian official said today.

“People have fled just 500 yards or 1000 yards from their villages,” Toby Lanzer, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Central African Republic (CAR), said, adding: “We’re providing them with shelter, access to clean water, health care, seeds and tools,” in addition to “bush schools” based in thatched huts for 75,000 children.

The UN has appealed for $92 million for humanitarian needs in CAR this year. It has so far received only about 10 per cent of those funds, Mr. Lanzer said.

He said that much of the displacement is caused by fighting between the Government and rebel factions, mainly in the north, which the UN was trying to end by promoting dialogue and helping reform the security sector.

He also stressed, however, that the country was “at the heart of a fairly rough neighbourhood,” between the strife-torn countries of Sudan, Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and it was often used by foreign armed groups for transit and staging grounds.

The ongoing insecurity has forced an estimated 100,000 people to flee to Chad or Cameroon as refugees, beside the 200,000 who have become internally displaced persons (IDPs).

The UN would prefer not to move those people hiding near their villages to displaced-persons camps, because they would lose complete control over their lives and livelihoods, Mr. Lanzer said.

Many can still farm, particularly if their children are attending the so-called bush schools during the day.