Central African Republic: UN prepares temporary site for people fleeing violence

4 March 2003

The United Nations refugee agency today said eight hectares of forest have been cleared for a temporary site in Chad that will accommodate thousands of people driven from their homes by spiralling violence in neighbouring Central African Republic (CAR).

While CAR nationals complain about atrocities by rebels, Chadian nationals said they had fled attacks by Central African Government forces, which are allegedly backed by a rebel group from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

"However, northern CAR has been off limits to the international community for several months now and it is difficult to verify reports about the situation there," Kris Janowski said in Geneva. The agency estimates there are now more than 26,000 people in at least six locations along Chad's southwestern border. More than 12,000 of them are Central Africans, while 14,000 are former Chadian immigrants to the CAR.

Though the influx of Central African refugees into Chad has eased somewhat in recent days - now between 100 and 150 a day, down from a daily high of 1,000 last week - reports of killings and atrocities persist. Mr. Janowski said when UNHCR staff recently visited nine border villages, hundreds of exhausted, hungry and wounded refugees left their hiding places in the bush to report shocking accounts of child kidnapping and murder, as well as the torching of family homes.


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