UN agency renews call on donors to support Central African Republic refugees
22 July 2014 – The United Nations refugee agency today called on donors to increase funding for programmes in neighbouring countries hosting refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR).
"The CAR remains one of the most poorly-funded emergencies. The underfunding is badly hampering our ability to provide even basic survival assistance for the refugees and even less to host communities," Babar Baloch, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told reporters in Geneva.
"The new refugee arrivals show signs of the brutal violence they have escaped in CAR. [They] have walked for weeks through the forests with little to eat or drink. In April and May, as many as 40 per cent of all the new refugees, children as well as adults, were suffering from malnutrition. We fear that for some children the assistance may be coming too late."
The appeal, backed also by 16 other agencies providing life-saving relief, is a revision of a Regional Refugee Response Plan covering the four asylum countries – Chad, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Republic of Congo – initially launched in April 2014. Today's revised plan puts the required needs at $210 million for a targeted beneficiary population of 306,500 by December 2014. To date the amount is only 31 per cent funded.
"Serious gaps in assistance remain in shelter and water, sanitation and hygiene. This poses particular concern now that the rainy season has begun," Mr. Baloch said, stressing the need for resources and life-saving supplies.
Over 357,000 CAR refugees are in Cameroon, Chad, DRC and the Republic of Congo and some 160,000 of them have fled since December 2013 after clashes intensified between the Seleka alliance and anti-Balaka militia.
The situation is particularly worrisome in Cameroon, where a majority of the refugees are arriving. To deal with the influx of refugees there, the Revised Plan requested $111 million, almost double of what was sought earlier.
"UNHCR has seen particularly serious malnutrition rates in Cameroon for over 118,000 arrivals in the last six months. Over 60 per cent of the refugees are women and children, with a high number of unaccompanied children," he said.
Children have indeed been affected by the region's conflict. Since December 2013, some 17,500 have arrived in Chad, over 15,000 in DRC, with another 9,000 in the Republic of Congo.
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