U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants World Refugee Survey 2006 - Central African Republic
|Publisher||United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants|
|Publication Date||14 June 2006|
|Cite as||United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants World Refugee Survey 2006 - Central African Republic , 14 June 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4496ad0720.html [accessed 25 November 2017]|
Attacks by armed groups in the north of the Central African Republic (CAR) prompted nearly 1,400 refugees in Boubou camp to return to Chad. They had fled the civil war in the early 1980s. The National Refugee Commission (NRC), headed by the Minister of the Interior, handled asylum claims and other refugee protection matters.
In August 2004, CAR the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo-Kinshasa), and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) signed an agreement for the return of Congolese refugees as part of a broader plan to repatriate a total of 200,000 refugees from 9 countries around the region over the next year-and-a-half. Many Congolese refugees had returned on their own to relatively peaceful areas of Congo-Kinshasa while UN forces secured areas such as Equateur province in the northwest from which Congolese refugees in CAR originated. Of the estimated 4,800 refugees, UNHCR planned to return about 3,700, some 2,900 of whom had been living in or around Molangue camp.
In early 2006, UNHCR also prepared a tripartite agreement to repatriate some 16,000 southern Sudanese refugees who had been in the country for over 15 years, but did not actively promote their return. UNHCR, however, along with the International Organization for Migration, was willing to help those refugees who asked to return – about 12,000 lived in Mboki camp and the other 4,000 were in either the Kaga Bandoro area or the capital, Bangui. UNHCR halted the program in March 2006 after fighting broke out in the return areas of Sudan.
By October, Boubou camp was empty apart from 600 remaining refugees and students who UNHCR considered to be "de facto locally integrated." Some 12,000 CAR refugees also fled to Chad.
Detention/Access to Courts
CAR detained numerous refugees for business complaints (see below), in identity checks, and without formal charges. UNHCR obtained the release of many of them but was unsuccessful in some prolonged cases. UNHCR worked informally with the International Committee of the Red Cross to monitor detention conditions for refugees and asylum seekers. The Government held the long-term detainees at the Office Central pour la Repression du Banditisme, a facility notorious for detainee abuse.
Asylum seekers received documents attesting to their pending claims when they applied for asylum. Upon receiving refugee status, they were entitled to refugee identity cards, but the Government sometimes took months or years to issue them. Applicants did receive notice of refugee status immediately, but this did not offer the same legal protection as cards. Refugees living in rural settlements did not receive identity cards, but could apply for them if they wished to move to Bangui.
The NRC also issued international travel documents valid in the Communaute Economique et Monetaire de l'Afrique Centrale (Cameroon, Chad, Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon) and Convention travel documents for other international travel.
Freedom of Movement and Residence
Officials harassed travelers to extort bribes or "taxes" at checkpoints along major roads and at major intersections in Bangui, often accusing refugees of carrying false documents and extorting bribes or detaining them. Otherwise, refugees with cards were free to move about the country. Refugees in rural settlements, who did not receive cards, had to apply for travel passes at no charge from NRC or the nearest police station. Refugees were also free to choose their place of residence, although they did have to register with the Government.
Right to Earn a Livelihood
Refugees had the legal right to work but police often arbitrarily arrested those, especially Rwandans who were successful in business, based on false charges by nationals. UNHCR intervened on their behalf regularly during the year. The 900 Congolese refugees at Molangue refugee settlement harvested nearly 90 tons of corn and sold it at market rates in Bangui.
Labor legislation protected refugees on par with nationals, but inefficiency of the Labor Inspection Office and the expense and delays of the Labor Court made it difficult to make a successful claim. Refugees had the right to own land, vehicles, and other assets, and could open bank accounts with their refugee cards but UNHCR aid was often necessary to assure citizens that their cards were valid for these purposes.
Public Relief and Education
UNHCR received $2.3 million for multi-sector activities in CAR during the year to assist 24,000 of the then-estimated 30,000 refugees in the country. In 2005, UNHCR focused more of its resources on repatriation programs to Chad, Sudan, and Congo-Kinshasa, promoted commercial farming and other income-generating activities among the remaining refugees in Molangue, organized an inter-agency mission to evaluate humanitarian needs in areas of CAR producing refugees to Chad, and supported some vulnerable refugees and refugee students in Bangui. The agency sought $8.8 million for 2006 and planned to spend $7.7 million of it on repatriation operations (mostly to Sudan) and $1 million on local integration projects.
In 2006, humanitarian indicators in the north were those of a war zone. Camps did not meet Sphere standards and insecurity outside Bangui prevented UN officials from traveling without a military escort.
CAR had not included refugees in the Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper it prepared for international development donors in 2000.