Displaced in Bangui Lack Financial Means to Return Home: IOM Return Intention Survey

By International Office of Migration (IOM)

GENEVA, Switzerland, June 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- IOM's fifth IDP Return Intention Survey carried out in Bangui, Central African Republic and released yesterday quantifies the increasing hardship experienced by the displaced population. Interviews were carried out from 19-23 May at 34 displacement sites in Bangui with 575 displaced persons.

In comparison to the April survey, the percentage of internally displaced persons (IDPs) who report that they do not have the financial means to return home has jumped from 68 per cent to 79 per cent. The percentage of IDPs who report that they do not feel safe in their neighborhood also increased from 64 per cent to 71 per cent.

There are more than 136,000 displaced persons in Bangui at some 42 displacement sites around the city. This is a decrease from late April, when there were 177,891 displaced persons at 45 sites. It is also a dramatic decrease from the end of December when there were more than 500,000 displaced people in Bangui.

These decreasing displacement figures demonstrate that IDPs are acting on their expressed desire to return home. A total of 60 per cent of IDPs responded that they intend to return home within the next four weeks. This is a slight increase from the April survey (57 per cent), but a significant drop from January (74 per cent) still suggesting that fewer displaced people intend to return home.

Those remaining at the sites are the most vulnerable, who do not have the financial means to return home, or whose homes have been destroyed. In order to return home the most frequently cited needs are housing (33 per cent), security (24 per cent) and non-food items (14 per cent).

Most (77 per cent) of IDPs have been displaced since December when fighting intensified; a total of 94 per cent of displaced persons experienced interruption of professional activities due to displacement. During these many months of displacement, they have used up their savings, resulting in a desperate financial situation: 98 per cent reported borrowing money and 88 per cent sold their work tools or consumed their stock of planting seeds.

The percentage of IDPs intending to relocate to another region within CAR has been increasing by a few percentage points each month: from 4.6 per cent in March 2014, 9 per cent in April 2014 to 11 per cent in this latest survey. Almost all displaced persons (97 per cent) reported that they have sent family members to live elsewhere.

The IDP Return Intention Survey has been carried out on a monthly basis in Bangui since January 2014 to track the displaced population's return intentions, factors that contribute to displacement, and requirements to return home.

The focus section of this month's survey is on displacement caused by the 28 May attack on Notre Dame de Fatima Church. The attack, in which more than 20 people were killed, provoked the displacement of 22,000 people, 9,000 of whom had been taking refuge at Notre Dame de Fatima. This population moved to nine other displacement sites, quickly straining the limited resources at these sites in terms of shelter, water, sanitation and food.

Marie, one young woman whose family fled Fatima church said: “I reunited with my mom, sister, niece and brother at Grand Séminaire displacement site in the area of Bimbo. It's good at Grand Séminaire because we are in a building and protected from the rain. In Fatima we slept on the ground. There's more security in Bimbo, but the houses are very crowded. There is enough water but everyone is looking for food. Even if they distribute food, it's not enough because there are so many people.”

The IDP Return Intention Survey in Bangui is part of IOM's Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), designed to provide population movement dynamics and guide humanitarian response to crisis.

To access the IDP Return Intention Surveys please visit: http://CARresponse.iom.int.