Refugee Crisis in Central Africa: Causes and How to Help

Willow Sylvester

 

Refugee crises have unfortunately heavily plagued the world since the second World War. Since that time, millions have been forcibly displaced from their homes. Around the world, the number of displaced persons has grown to roughly 86.5 million; each one of them fleeing violence, persecution, and ongoing conflict. While some find refuge abroad, many find their new homes in refugee camps where food, shelter, and resources are already stretched thin.


It takes an immense amount of courage to leave your loved ones home or even bring them along on an unknown journey. These travels often occur whenever it is safest to flee, and the individuals take only what they can carry. 


It can be hard to imagine how bad an environment is to force someone to take the risk, unbeknown to the dangers that lay ahead, but refugees often don’t have a choice. The best chance for their family’s survival is to seek safety elsewhere. 


Even though this event doesn’t sound like it would be all too common, it’s a reality for many residents of the Central African Republic (CAR) as it’s been happening since 2013.

 

 

Central African Refugee History

The refugee crisis in the Central African Republic first began when violence erupted between two armed militant groups. 640,000 were forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in neighboring countries, including:


  • Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
  • Republic of the Congo
  • Chad
  • Cameroon

This does not include the additional 630,000 internally displaced still within the country’s borders. Since 2013 the country has seen continued events of violent behavior that have escalated to the point of forcing citizens to escape. 


Current Hardships in Central Africa

The most recent conflicts have been the result of opposition rejects the latest election results in December 2020. This new onslaught of violence has forced an additional 200,000 citizens to seek safety elsewhere. Almost a third of the population of the CAR is currently displaced.


New conflicts have begun to erupt around the country. Some in areas that were once safe havens, previously free of the violence affects other areas of the country. Now, people have left their homes in these areas with nothing. They have taken to hiding in the forests with no food or water in attempts to escape the violence. When they arrive at shelters and camps they are often tired, malnourished, and emotionally drained. 


Unfortunately, the fighting continues. 


Until recently, violent rebellions blocked off many checkpoints along the main transport routes between CAR and Cameroon. This halted many imports into the county, primarily food, water, and other resources. These supplies are desperately needed to support the growing displaced population. 


Inside the country, there is almost no ability for movement. The state of emergency, coupled with the curfew, and armed militias surrounding major cities has made escape almost impossible. Those willing to try, have had to resort to moving in the cover of darkness, and through rough forest terrain. 


Those who were able to flee across the border in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo can count themselves lucky. Refugees have reported to the UNHCR, once they heard the first gunshots they left in a panic. They did not have the option of being afforded the luxury of bringing any personal belongings.

 

 

How to Help Refugees in the Central African Republic 

In the face of these major conflicts, it may seem like there is little hope or possibility of assisting the refugees affected by the current Central African Republic conflicts. However, there are ways we can help during this difficult time. Here are a few ways we can help:


  • Donating to reputable causes
  • Volunteering your time to help refugees assimilating into your community
  • Advocating for refugee rights
  • Spreading awareness of the current conflict in CAR

One of the simplest ways to make a positive impact on refugees in the midst of this crisis is to make small changes in our everyday lives. By choosing to shop at businesses that actively support refugees, we can make a difference. 


At Epimonia, not only do we donate 50 percent of our profits to support refugee organizations around the world, but we included refugees in the design and manufacturing of our products. When we choose to shop more consciously, we can enact real change in the lives of refugees in the middle of the current Central African Republican crisis.

 

 



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