IOM Supports Community Efforts to Help Displaced People in Bangui Return Home

By International Office of Migration (IOM)
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GENEVA, Switzerland, August 29, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- In Bangui's Third District a community association “Tournons la Page” (“Turn the Page”) is helping people displaced by the Central African Republic (CAR) crisis to return to their homes, supported by a pilot initiative of IOM's EU-funded Community Stabilization Unit.

“Turn the Page” is working with IOM to provide cleaning and tool kits to displaced people who want to return to their homes in the Third District. The kits include shovels, wheelbarrows, rakes, cleaning and disinfectant products, carpentry equipment, and tools to trim overgrowth.

By receiving the kits, displaced people commit to returning home. Fifty kits are available each week. After one week people are expected to return them to the association in order to allow them to be given to other returnees.

The Third District was the site of some of the most intense violence in the CAR crisis. The situation has since improved, but continues to be unstable, as demonstrated by the widespread violence of August 20th, 2014. Hundreds of houses in the area have been damaged and many homes have been deserted for several months.

The most recent IOM return intention survey in July found that 50% of displaced people stated that “destruction of their homes” was the main reason for their displacement. Some 68% cited “lack of means” as the primary reason preventing them from leaving displacement sites.

Now in its second week, the programme has assisted 47 households to rehabilitate their houses in order to be able to return home. In total, the project aims to assist more than 200 households to clean and rehabilitate their homes.

“Turn the Page” also organizes communal street cleaning twice a week to encourage returned families to engage with their neighbours, and coordinates group transport from displacement sites back to homes in the Third District.

Recently, there has been a gradual return from displacement sites to homes in the Third District. Residents hope that support from IOM and “Turn the Page” will accelerate the process.

The president of “Turn the Page” Mansour Mangui said: “The process is going very well. We work together with all communities. The majority of displaced people from the Third District are at the Ledger [Mpoko airport displacement site]. Our dream is to be finished with the Ledger and end the conflict so we can live together in peace. IOM helped us with the return kits. Through these activities everyone can to return to the Third District in security to work on their houses. Our work motivates other people to come home.”

The two-month pilot initiative will continue through mid-October. IOM provides funding and technical advice for the community cleaning projects. The initiative is IOM's first effort to facilitate durable return solutions for continuously displaced populations. IOM is actively seeking funding support for projects related to return solutions.

IOM's EU-funded Community Stabilization Unit project: “Support to early recovery and community stabilization for communities at risk in Bangui” supports social cohesion and peaceful cohabitation among communities through economic revitalization, infrastructure rehabilitation, and grassroots events to promote reconciliation. The project is focused on Bangui's Third and Fifth Districts.