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15.07.2014 Africa

Displaced Families in Bangui Cite Insecurity, Lack of Public Services as Reason Not to Return Home

By International Office of Migration (IOM)
Displaced Families in Bangui Cite Insecurity, Lack of Public Services as Reason Not to Return Home
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GENEVA, Switzerland, July 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- IOM's 6th Return Intention Survey of internally displaced people (IDPs) in Bangui, Central African Republic, indicates a marked decline from May to June in IDPs' perception of availability of public services such as schools, health services and markets in their neighbourhoods of origin.

The return intention survey was based on interviews with 601 IDPs carried out at 31 displacement sites from 17-19 June. The survey has been conducted on a monthly basis since January 2014 to track the needs and intentions of IDPs in Bangui.

Compared with the previous survey, IDPs' needs to facilitate their return remain in almost the same order: security is the highest priority (33%), followed by housing (31%) and non-food relief items (13%.)

Just over half (56%) of respondents indicated an intention to return to their place of origin within the next four weeks. This figure has been gradually decreasing since the January survey when 74% of IDPs indicated an intention to return home within a month.

The number of displaced persons who want to stay at their displacement site increased from 27% in May to 36% in June. This is also a significant increase from February, when only 19% of displaced people wanted to stay at their displacement site.

IDPs' also now perceive fewer public services to be available in their areas of origin. In comparison to the May survey, the percentage of respondents who reported that markets are open has decreased from 39% to 18%.

Reported availability of public services has also declined, including schools (from 20% to 15%), health centres (from 39% to 23%), and presence of civil servants (from 32% to 21%.) The reported presence of international military forces also decreased from 57% to 49%; as well as reported police/army patrols (from 25% to 20%).

“Lack of authorities” (68%) is now the second most frequently cited reason for not returning home. This figure has increased from 58% in the May survey. IDPs most frequently cited reason for not returning home is that all their belongings had been stolen (74%.) Other reasons included lack of financial means to return (66%), and not feeling safe in their area of origin (66%.)

All of these figures had been gradually increasing since January, but responses indicate that the gains were lost from May to June. These perceptions may be related to widespread protests and security incidents in Bangui at the end of May, especially in the 3rd and 5th districts, which caused the temporary closure of most remaining businesses and public services.

Food continues to be a critical issue. Some 97% of respondents reported a reduction in the number of meals per day; 97% reported a reduction in family member's food consumption; and 89% reported a reduction in adults' food consumption to feed children. 92% of IDPs said that they had experienced an interruption of income-generating activities due to displacement.

The number of IDPs country wide is now estimated at 535,000. According to the Commission on Population Movement there are currently 105,300 IDPs at some 42 displacement sites in Bangui. The IDP population has been gradually decreasing since late December, when there were over 500,000 IDPs in Bangui.

IDP return rates have slowed in the last few months as the IDPs remaining at the sites are the most vulnerable. Most have had their homes destroyed or do not have the financial means to return. Interventions are now urgently needed to ensure that long-term displacement does not become entrenched.

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

To access the CAR IDP Return Intention Surveys, please visit: http://carresponse.iom.int/

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