UNHCR – Briefing Notes – Geneva, 25.02.2014


 1-      UNHCR says over 15000 CAR civilians facing acute risk, better

security urgently needed


 2-      Pakistan begins issuing new cards to 1.6 million Afghan


 This is a summary of what was said by the UNHCR spokesperson at today’s Palais des Nations press briefing in Geneva.

 1-    UNHCR says over 15000 CAR civilians facing acute risk, better security urgently needed

 In Central African Republic, and based on monitoring by the UNHCR-led Protection Cluster, more than 15,000 people in 18 locations in the northwest and southwest of the country are at present surrounded and being threatened by armed groups. These populations are at very high risk of attack and urgently need better security.  Although violence has hit all communities in CAR, most of the people who are trapped are Muslims under threat from anti-Balaka militiamen. Areas we are particularly worried about include the PK12 neighbourhood in Bangui and the towns of Boda, Bouar and Bossangoa.

Targeting of populations based on their religions has been happening since September last year, and affecting both Christian and Muslim communities. In places such as Paoua and some areas of Bangui, communities continue to live and work together.  However, atrocities have become frequent.

On Saturday, three Muslim men were reported killed in a neighbouhood of Bangui close to the airport.  Last week, a convoy carrying people escaping from a besieged site at PK12 was attacked by anti-Balaka militiamen.  All 21 men in the convoy were killed, leaving 119 frightened children and 19 women who fled to a nearby village. Recently in Boali, north of the capital Bangui, an attack by anti-Balaka militias left 11 people dead.  The 800 traumatized survivors sought refuge at a church where they have since been hosted by the priest and protected by international forces.

UNHCR and our partners are responding to these situations through protection-by-presence, humanitarian assistance, advocacy for protection measures and in exceptional cases, through facilitating the movement of these communities to safe sites. But humanitarian efforts alone cannot be sufficient solution to the crisis. We are appealing again to all armed elements to stop indiscriminate attacks against civilians. We are also calling for the deployment of more international troops as their numbers are far too low considering the size of the country and the scope of the crisis.

CAR’s new Government needs urgent support to undertake effective law enforcement in particular through deployment of police forces and reestablishment of a judicial system to end impunity. Armed militias need to be disarmed, de-mobilized and when possible, reintegrated into society. Quick development action is also needed to allow displaced persons to recover a more stable environment and for economic and social life to return to normal.

Since December 2012, violence and instability have forced close to a million people to flee within CAR and to neighboring Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo. More than 700,000 are internally displaced (with 273,500 IDPs in Bangui spread over 66 sites), while more than 288,000 refugees fled to neighbouring countries.


2-    Pakistan begins issuing new cards to 1.6 million Afghan refugees

The Government of Pakistan, with UNHCR assistance, has begun issuing new refugee cards to more than 1.6 million registered Afghan refugees. These Proof of Registration cards are valid till the end of 2015.

Pakistan’s Cabinet decided in July of 2013 to further extend the temporary stay of Afghan refugees. The refugee card is important as it provides for Afghans to legally remain in Pakistan and thereby protects against risks such as extortion, arbitrary arrest and detention as well as deportation under Pakistan’s Foreigner’s Act.

Pakistan’s National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) launched the countrywide project earlier this month. The process will be carried out in two phases: during February-June 2014 all expired cards will be replaced. In the second phase, from July to the end of the year, Pakistan will register and issue individual cards to some 150,000 children born during the past five years An additional 330,000 Afghan children below the age of eighteen will receive birth certificates for the first time under this initiative. UNHCR welcomes the issuance of birth certificates as this offers important protection for refugee children as it helps to prevents statelessness, makes it easy for children to access social services and basic rights – such as school enrolment,  and allows or the issuance of documentation.

The implementation of the card renewal exercise is a result of continuous cooperation between the Governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan and is aimed to secure the protection of Afghan refugees in Pakistan which remains the world’s largest refugee hosting nation. In all there are 2.6 million Afghan refugees worldwide, the majority hosted in Pakistan and Iran.


Gisèle Nyembwe

Public Information Associate

Collaboratrice adjointe chargée de l’information UNHCR Canada

Tel: (613) 232-0909 ext. 225

Mobile: (613) 986-4300


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