Central African Republic situation

man carrying building poles
Inter-tribal clashes in the Central African Republic (CAR) in August 2019 forced many to flee to safety in Sudan. Refugees from the Central African Republic receive a distribution of shelter materials from UNHCR partner, Norwegian Church Aid, at Al Amal settlement in Sudan’s South Darfur region.
© UNHCR/Modesta Ndubi
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Global Report 2022 


2022 Year-end population figures 

  • Refugees and asylum-seekers: 762,700, 53% women and 47% men (refugees) and 79% women and children (asylum-seekers) 

  • IDPs: 515,700  

  • IDP returnees: 404,600  

  • Refugee returnees: 5,700  


2022 Situation overview 

For more than 10 years, conflict and insecurity inside the Central African Republic (CAR) have caused significant forced displacement within the country and across borders. As of December 2022, 515,700 Central Africans were displaced within their own country and 762,700 had sought refuge abroad, including in neighbouring Cameroon (352,700), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) (211,200), Chad (126,900), the Republic of the Congo (29,600), Sudan (24,400), and South Sudan (2,300).  

Being landlocked, the CAR relies heavily on supply lines through bordering countries, and was greatly impacted by the supply chain disruption caused by the Ukraine crisis. Since June 2022, an acute fuel crisis caused a 40% increase in gasoline and oil prices. All these factors worsened the already difficult living conditions of the forcibly displaced people and their host communities, further exposing them to heightened protection risks such as gender-based violence, negative coping mechanisms and child labour. Additionally, rising transport costs and the need to ration fuel reduced access to people in need and hampered the humanitarian response.  

While conditions in the CAR as a whole were not yet conducive to safe returns, improvements in specific areas allowed for the possibility of returns. UNHCR focused on conducting protection monitoring and providing accurate information about areas of return for refugees to make a free and informed decision to repatriate to areas of origin. In 2022, 5,600 refugees were able to return to the CAR with the support of UNHCR, bringing the total since 2017 to 32,700. UNHCR distributed over $771,000 in cash assistance to support the returnees upon arrival in the CAR. An estimated 404,600 internally displaced people (IDPs) were also able to return to their places of origin in 2022.  

In April 2022, UNHCR and the Government of Cameroon co-hosted a three-day regional ministerial conference, during which the CAR and the six neighbouring countries hosting Central African refugees adopted the Yaoundé Declaration, reaffirming their commitment to pursue a regional approach to deliver solutions for Central African refugees, IDPs, and returnees. The Yaoundé Declaration mandates UNHCR to establish a dedicated regional cooperation mechanism to mobilize political, technical and financial support from all relevant local, regional and global stakeholders towards a comprehensive response to the CAR displacement crisis. The envisaged solutions plan will combine humanitarian assistance with longer-term development interventions towards socioeconomic inclusion to build resilience and self-reliance, and to foster a conducive environment for sustainable return and reintegration. 

In 2022, UNHCR continued its protection-centred work to meet the increasing needs of displaced Central Africans still awaiting durable solutions. In neighbouring countries, prioritized activities included access to documentation, livelihoods support and socioeconomic inclusion for refugees. More than 75% of Central African refugees were hosted in Cameroon and the DRC, where refugees were granted equal access to employment and social services. In Cameroon, the response focused on improving access to documentation to ensure Central African refugees could exercise these rights. In Chad, the work focused on livelihood and empowerment activities, and in Sudan, progress towards local integration was supported by activities to ensure access to documentation and naturalization, as well as livelihood activities.  

In the CAR, and in relation to the gender-based violence response, by the end of 2022 UNHCR supported the establishment of 27 listening centres across 12 prefectures. In 2022 – as part of the Ma Mbi Si project for gender-based violence prevention and response which was launched in 2021 – 2,400 in-person gender-based violence incident reports and 1,735 calls were received. Of the reported gender-based violence incidents, 100% received psychosocial support. Shelter needs continued to be high and beset by underfunding, and approximately 34,000 IDPs (6,700 households) were provided with emergency shelter kits. Moreover, around 25,000 individuals – including IDPs, refugees and host communities – and 19,600 returnees (4,600 households) received core relief items including tarpaulins, blankets, mats, kitchen sets, buckets, jerry cans and solar lamps. In addition, 14,149 people – including returnees and forcibly displaced persons with specific needs – were provided with cash assistance, bringing the total cash disbursed to $1,105,000, to cover immediate needs such as food and education costs.


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Global Appeal 2023

2023 population planning figures 

  • Refugees and asylum-seekers: 624,000 

  • IDPs: 550,000 

  • Refugee and IDP returnees: 236,500 


2023 situation overview 

One in every four Central Africans was displaced in 2022, a figure that testifies to the severity of the protracted forced displacement crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR). Yet 2022 was marked by improvements in the security environment in some localities, allowing voluntary repatriations to safe areas to resume in May. At the same time, new difficulties such as global inflationary pressures and a fuel crisis linked to the war in Ukraine are affecting refugees, internally displaced people and host communities alike, exacerbating protection risks, reducing humanitarian access and forcing voluntary repatriation to come to a temporary halt.  

As the situation remains fragile, UNHCR’s response in 2023 will be key to ensuring that hard-won progress is not lost. Protection will remain at the heart of UNHCR’s response on the ground, with particular attention paid to the prevention of gender-based violence risk mitigation and response, and accountability to affected populations. UNHCR will continue to deliver protection, emergency shelter and core relief items to internally displaced people in line with its IASC mandate.  

Building on the Yaoundé Declaration signed in April 2022, UNHCR will operationalize a Solutions Support Platform bringing together the seven governments and relevant stakeholders affected by displacement from the CAR. This platform will seek to mobilize all the necessary support and resources to secure durable solutions both in the countries of asylum and in the CAR, from effective refugee inclusion to voluntary returns.  

Global Report 2021

2021 Year-end population figures

  • Refugees and asylum seekers: 737,000
  • IDPs: 692,000
  • IDP and refugee returns: 377,000

2021 Situation overview

The start of 2021 saw an influx of tens of thousands of Central African refugees into neighbouring countries, as post-electoral violence forced them to flee their homes. Throughout the year, the political and security situation improved but remained volatile and precarious in the country, which is home to one of the most protracted refugee situations in the world. The prevalence of gender-based violence, a rise in child protection incidents and the increased use of explosive devices contributed to an unfavourable and uncertain protection environment. Despite this difficult context, a ceasefire in the autumn and the resulting improvement of security conditions allowed UNHCR to resume supporting voluntary returns in October 2021, offering prospects and solutions for Central Africans wishing to return. In the final quarter of the year, UNHCR organized the voluntary repatriation of around 5,600 Central African refugees to safe areas within the country, with many IDPs also electing to regain their homes.

In addition to strengthening its presence in key return areas, UNHCR worked to improve the protection environment. In 2021, UNHCR set up and supported 89 protection committees, and identified and analysed close to 8,000 protection incidents. UNHCR strengthened its gender-based violence response by reinforcing, rehabilitating and equipping 26 dedicated support centres so that they could provide survivors with holistic support (psychosocial support; quality casework; referral services with additional support for transport and medical fees; dignity kits and other material and financial support; communal support and group activities for survivors), while also introducing a hotline enabling survivors located in remote areas to benefit from psychosocial support and case management. In total, close to 3,600 survivors benefited from those enhanced gender-based violence protection services in 2021.

To protect IDPs, UNHCR continued to lead the protection, shelter/core relief items and camp coordination and camp management clusters. Over 14,000 internally displaced people received core relief item kits, and UNHCR covered and reinforced 40% of all IDPs’ shelters with plastic sheets. In addition, UNHCR continued its advocacy efforts, promoting the domestication of the Kampala Convention and actively pursuing regional dialogue with governments and partners in the search of solutions for all affected populations in the Central African Republic and host countries.