IOM Operation in CAR Threatened by Lack of Money
GENEVA, Switzerland, February 4, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- On Saturday IOM organized its 19th evacuation flight for Third Country Nationals (TCNs) exiting the Central African Republic (CAR). The flight transported 314 Chadians from the CAR to Chad.
“People are desperate to leave CAR. IOM is assisting third country nationals to return home safely, and will continue to do so if funds become available,” said Jan de Wilde, IOM Officer-in-Charge in CAR.
IOM has appealed for USD 17.5 million for CAR, but has only received USD 2.8 million. The Organization still urgently needs contributions to be able to evacuate TCNs in dire need of protection.
IOM Director General William Lacy Swing will visit CAR from February 5-8 to assess needs for further IOM interventions. He will meet with the President, government ministers and UN officials, visit IOM programme sites, and undertake a field trip to the prefectures.
IOM is also assisting displaced people at over 70 sites in Bangui, including the Central Mosque, with a mobile medical clinic.
A Chadian Muslim man who wished to remain anonymous was evacuated on Saturday's flight with his brother to escape violence in CAR. Their wives and children were previously evacuated to Chad by road. The brothers had remained behind in Bangui to take care of their food distribution business.
“We don't want to go, but we are in danger here. The violence is widespread. Muslims are being attacked and killed. The homes of Muslims have been ruined. The situation is deteriorating. We lived here for a long time but it is not possible anymore. We will return to Chad,” he said.
Another Chadian man who worked as a clothing merchant in Bangui for 25 years was also evacuated.
“Friends told us that this organization [IOM] takes good care of people with full security. They took good care of us, registered us. We are very happy, we're ready to board, we are ready to return to our home country,” he said.
Since January 11, 2014 a total of 4,792 TCNs have received assistance from IOM to return to their home countries. These include nationals from Chad, Cameroon, Mali, Sudan, Niger and Senegal.
Evacuation flights will be continued as needs develop. IOM currently has funds for two to three additional flights. Unless funding improves, the flights will be discontinued.
This week IOM will continue detailed registration of TCNs who wish to leave CAR. IOM is working with consular staff from each country, who are responsible for confirming the nationalities of individuals who lack proper identification.
There are more than 400,000 displaced people in CAR's capital city Bangui, and approximately 825,000 in the entire country. This figure was determined by the Commission on Population Movement, a sub-cluster of the UN Protection Cluster, of which IOM is a member.