GENEVA, Switzerland, February 18, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM has conducted a second survey of the return intentions of displaced people (IDPs) in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR). It follows an initial Intention Return Survey conducted January 15-16.
The goal was to identify changes in the IDP community’s return intentions over a one-month period. The survey was based on over 600 interviews conducted by IOM site facilitators at over 40 IDP sites in Bangui.
According to the latest findings of the Commission on Population Movement, published on 11 February, there are currently 714,000 displaced people in CAR – some 425,000 outside Bangui, and some 289,000 living in 69 sites in Bangui.
In both the January and February surveys, insecurity was the main reason for leaving their place of origin (99 per cent of respondents) and 20 per cent of respondents said that they have changed taken shelter at more than one IDP site.
The conflict in CAR has divided the population along both ethnic and religious lines. The situation has deteriorated to the point that Muslims and other minorities do not feel safe anywhere other than in IDP sites. Most people stay at IDP sites at night, but go to work outside during the day.
In comparing the two surveys, the percentage of IDPs who would like to return to their place of origin has decreased from January to February, from 72 per cent to 65.5 per cent.
There is a significant difference in return intentions of the majority and minority populations: 72 per cent of the majority (Christians) would like to return, while 66 per cent of minorities (Muslims and ethnic minorities) would like to go to another region, their country of origin, or stay at an IDP site.
Of those who would like to return, the main priority is housing, while one month ago the priority need was an improvement in security.
The survey also indicates the economic hardship of the IDP population: 93 per cent have reduced family members’ food portions, 90 per cent have reduced adult food to feed the children, and 85 per cent spend days without eating. All of these indicators have increased since the January survey.
IOM Head of Office in CAR Giuseppe Loprete said: “IOM remains focused on addressing the humanitarian needs of the displaced population. This exercise is extremely useful to better understand the situation based on the perceptions of displaced persons. And it provides the displaced population with an opportunity to express their needs.”
The final report will be released this week in English and French.