8,500 internally displaced people forced to leave the Elevage site in Bambari
More than 8,500 people who lived at the Elevage IDP site in Bambari in the Ouaka Prefecture in the center of the country, most of them ethnic Fulani, were once again forcefully displaced to the city’s neighborhoods. On 4 June, armed elements threatened IDPs at the site and committed serious international humanitarian law violations. Two days later, the Elevage site was set on fire in circumstances that remain to be clarified. Fearing for their safety, some of the residents of Mbiande and Kombélé, villages located 20 km from Bambari on the Bambari-Ippy axis, also moved to Mbagolo in the same period. 5,900 of the IDPs from the Elevage site today live in close promiscuity on the premises of the mosque in Bambari and more than 2,000 others in host families, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Responding to urgent needs
A rapid needs assessment conducted on 7 June by humanitarian partners OCHA, UNHCR, WFP, Triangle (TGH), INTERSOS, ACTED, COOPI and PARET found that the displaced people urgently needed water, basic household items, food, education and protection. On the same day, an international organization started distributing 40,000 liters of water per day to IDPs at the mosque and in surrounding neighborhoods, as well as to host communities. The NGOs MSF and TGH set up nine latrines in the mosque, in addition to the three that existed, and provided disinfectants and hand washing facilities. MSF also ensures sanitation at the mosque, using a dedicated site identified by the authorities for waste disposal. The NGO COOPI, with the support from the World Food Programme (WFP), distributed on 9 June 8.9 tons of high-energy biscuits, representing a three-day ration, followed by the distribution of food stamps for a one-month ration for all 8,500 IDPs. More than 400 children also received nutritional supplements from WFP. The IDPs hosted at the mosque also received non-food items from UNHCR, including tarpaulins, mosquito nets, cooking utensils and soap. To ensure IDPs access to health services, MSF relocated its malaria treatment center to the mosque, which the NGO had run at the Elevage site before it was set on fire. IMC and MSF also continue their usual support for the city's health facilities where IDPs can access free healthcare. Promoting reproductive health, the NGO AID with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), distributed sanitary products, including sanitary pads, towels, buckets, soap and loincloth to 100 vulnerable women. In response to suspected measles cases among IDPs at the mosque and a confirmed case in the neighborhoods, MSF vaccinated more than 2,380 children aged 6 months to 15 years.
The school at the Elevage IDP site was destroyed in the fire and the one on the mosque premises serves as a refuge for IDPs, leaving more than 800 children without access to education. In response, the local education board and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) integrated the majority of students into nearby schools, where they are currently taking end-of-year exams. The NGOs APADE and JRS distributed school supplies to nearly 2,700 children, including the IDPs. Despite these efforts to keep children in school, cases of school dropouts have been noted but their extent remains to be determined.
On 11 June, the Humanitarian Coordinator allocated US$ 12 million from the Humanitarian Fund to cover urgent needs in areas of high vulnerability and where the resurgence of violence has exacerbated humanitarian and protection needs. This funding enabled IDP camp coordination and management (CCCM) and the provision of non-food items to the displaced people in Bambari.
Protection remains the biggest concern
While the IDPs need assistance, their protection remains a major concern. Some of them feel threatened by attacks from armed groups, making host families less inclined to offer them a shelter. The NGO INTERSOS monitors protection incidents at the mosque compound and in other areas hosting IDPs, while MercyCorps implements gender-based violence (GBV) prevention activities. With the support from UNICEF, the NGO Espérance is setting up mobile child-friendly spaces which provide fun-inspired psychosocial support services to children and educate their parents on protection issues.