Mali on Edge
|Kim Lewis||April 5th 2013|
The United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, said they are continuing to see influxes of refugees from the Central African Republic pouring into the neighboring countries of Chad, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo, due to instability from fighting in CAR
In addition, the agency is also working to provide assistance to Mali refugees who are fleeing violence, either by foot or donkey and going into areas of Niger. The UNHCR says the CAR refugees are in a dire situation, leaving their homes in such a hurry that they left behind all of their personal belongings. Most of them are living out in the open.
“Refugees from the Central African Republic are coming in a poor state. For some of them, we’ve had cases of malnutrition; we have separated children. Most of the families left in a hurry so they were not able to take their personal belongings with them, which means that they depend on humanitarian assistance. [Some are] in areas where some host families have accommodated them despite the fact that they themselves live in extreme poverty,” explained Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba, spokesperson for the UNHCR.
Since last December, the UNHCR reported that 30,876 CAR refugees fled to the DRC. Meanwhile, over the last few months, Chad has received 5,600 refugees, and Cameroon, 1,024. In addition, instability and fear of violence in Mali forced 5,592 refugees to cross the border in Niger, last week.
Lejeune-Kaba said these people are also living in very precarious situations in the arid deserts of neighboring Niger. She said the agency is working to relocate them to camps so they can properly provide them with assistance. For now, lack of water is a big concern. The available water in the area of the refugees, which is drawn from pools, is a health hazard.
“The concern with the water is that it contains clay and is not drinkable, which means that those who drink it could face health problems, and that’s what we are trying to avoid by relocating them to other places where not only we can access them, but also there is a functioning well,” explained Lejeune-Kaba.
The UNHCR said with the help of partner agencies, are moving staff into areas where the refugees are now, and will continue with distributions of food and non-food assistance.
Kim Lewis writes for VOA, from where this aricle is adapted.