Central African Republic IDP Figures Analysis

As of 21 August 2015, IDMC estimates that there were 369,500 internally displaced people (IDPs) in the Central African Republic.


IDMC’s figures are based upon estimates published by the United Nations (UN), including figures provided by the, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the rapid response mechanism coordinated by the UN Children’s Fund, NGOs operating on the ground, and local authorities and leaders. These figures have been compiled and validated by the Population Movement Commission (CMP) which is a subsidiary of the UNHCR-led protection cluster.

The estimates here represent an incomplete picture. The geographical coverage of displacement has improved over the past year, not least thanks to CMP’s new initiatives, such as its population tracking system, but its figures can still only be considered rough estimates for a number of reasons. One of the biggest limitations of the data available on internal displacement in CAR is the lack of more comprehensive data on the situation in the provinces. In the eastern part of the country, the CMP has struggled to find sources apart from local authorities and some NGOs. While there is some more detailed information in some areas, such as Ouham and Ouaka prefectures, other parts of the country remain a black hole for information on internal displacement. Few if any short-term displacements are likely to be captured, and access to many areas, particularly the bush, is restricted. CMP’s current methodologies endeavour to include IDPs living in displacement sites, with host families and in the bush, but they do not cover those living in rented or abandoned housing. The tracking of movements, whether new displacements or returns, is relatively recent and not comprehensive but no assessment of the durability of returns takes place. As a consequence, the real scale of displacement outside Bangui may be very different from what this figure makes us believe.

Until May 2015, no data on internal displacement disaggregated by age, sex, religious or ethnic group were available.

IDP figures leaped from an estimated 52,000 at the beginning of the current crisis in December 2012 to 958,000 as of 10 January 2014 (peak) and then progressively declined to 369,500 as of end of July 2015. According to the CMP, there were 59,800 in Ouham prefecture, 59,500 in Bangui, 49,300 in Ouaka and 40,800 in Ombella M’Poko as of July 2015. The CMP estimated that 64 per cent of the IDPs were living with host families, 35 per cent in camp-like settings and spontaneous settlements - including in and around public buildings such as schools, churches and mosques - and 1 per cent in the bush.

Since the transitional president Michel Djotodia resigned on 11 January 2014, more than 130,000 IDPs are believed to have returned home. However, new displacement continues to take place as well.

IDMC uses only the most credible accurate information available. Notwithstanding the caveats and limitations of the source information described above, IDMC believes this to be the best data and is grateful to the partners for sharing it.