Islamic Help

Islamic Help’s work in Central African Republic Welcomed

5 th December, 2014

Christians at the heart of ethno-religious violence which sparked an exodus of Muslim refugees from the Central African Republic have welcomed an Islamic Help project to help victims of the conflict.

Islamic Help is leading an international coalition which has already set up a refugee camp in Cameroon for more than 1,500 people forced to flee CAR. 

Work has now started on a camp in CAR itself to house a similar number of internally displaced people (IDPs). 

The project at Yelwa involves building on a 5-hectare plot of land donated by the local community. It has only been allowed to go ahead with the approval of the commander of the anti-Balaka – the Christian militia group which has been targeting Muslims in CAR – in Nana Mbere region.

The anti-Balaka was represented at the launch ceremony. The Mayor of Niem Yelwa, Al Haji Bachirou, said the militia shared the views of local civic and community leaders that the new camp could be a model for others as it will benefit both Muslims and non-Muslims internally displaced by the conflict.

The camp for IDPs will feature 200 family shelters, a health centre, a communal kitchen, a school for about 750 children, a wooden mosque, four water wells, 41 toilets and showers and solar-powered lighting. It is expected to be complete in early 2015.

The CAR camp will be similar to Islamic Help’s refugee camp in Garoua Boulai, Cameroon. It also houses 1,500 refugees from CAR and opened in October.

The Central African Republic has been beset by communal and religious conflict for the last decade which erupted nationwide in 2012. Many victims of the atrocities have been Muslims and the United Nations warned they were being subjected to ethnic cleansing.

Islamic Help’s partners in helping the people of CAR include the Islamic Development Bank and the Centre Culturel Des Musulmans Pour Le Developpement (CCMUD)..

In December 2014, the UN estimated that in CAR:

• about 500,000 people had been internally displaced
• nearly 300,000 had fled CAR and were refugees in neighbouring countries
• More than 1 in 5 of CAR’s 4.5 million population is displaced
• At least 1 million in the country are in dire need of humanitarian assistance