Fresh attacks force hundreds of Central Africans to flee into Chad – UN agency
A new and particularly brutal round of attacks on villages in the north of the Central African Republic (CAR) has driven hundreds of people into neighbouring Chad over the past month, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported today.
Some 400 refugees arrived in Bekoninga, a southern Chadian village, late last month, and an estimated 200 others are expected to cross the border soon, according to Jennifer Pagonis, a spokesperson for UNHCR in Geneva.
The latest arrivals – mostly women and children and a mix of ethnic Peuls and Arabs – join about 46,000 refugees from the CAR living in four UNHCR-operated camps in southern Chad. About 300 have already been transferred to one of the camps.
Ms. Pagonis said the refugees told UNHCR staff that armed rebels, sometimes in groups as large as 100, tortured and executed locals, raped women, took children for ransom and then burned the villages.
The towns attacked since mid-January include Paoua and Herba, located in the Bozomom commune about 300 kilometres northwest of Bangui, the capital of the CAR. The villages of Betoko, Bemal and Pougol were also hit by anti-government forces.
Last month, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator to the CAR Toby Lanzer warned that the country was experiencing violence “unlike that previously seen,” with wave after wave of attacks on villages in the northwest and northeast, widespread gender-based violence and distressingly high rates of maternal mortality.
The Security Council has asked Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to submit his recommendations by the middle of this month on the possibility and scope of a UN presence in eastern Chad and northern CAR to help the two impoverished nations deal with the increasingly frequent rebel attacks.