Escalating violence uproots tens of thousands of Central Africans, UN says

31 March 2009
Civilians crossed the Barh Aouk River from CAR into Chad with a handful of possessions and the clothes on their backs

Intensified clashes in the Central African Republic have driven tens of thousands of civilians from their homes, the United Nations reported today, noting that the unrest could prolong the humanitarian crisis that has wracked the country for more than a decade.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that the violence could also jeopardize progress towards power-sharing between the Government and rebel groups.

The latest fighting in north-west of the CAR between Government troops and an emerging rebel forces, known as the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP), have led some 6,400 people to escape into the bush, while over 9,000 others have fled across the border to Chad.

In the past ten years, over 300,000 people have been displaced by violence in the country.

In 2008, refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) began returning to their villages after peace agreements were signed with rebel groups, culminating with the holding of successful inclusive political dialogue, bringing all groups together in the capital, Bangui.

But renewed clashes this January across the country’s north have forced nearly 24,000 to flee. While efforts are under way to help the IDPs, Government forces have limited access to those in need several times this month.

“Those who have fled their homes and lost their livelihoods are now in desperate need of protection and humanitarian aid,” said Mai Moussa Abari, interim Humanitarian Coordinator for CAR.

He called on the Government to ensure consistent access for aid workers to all of those uprooted by the recent violence.

According to OCHA, below one-quarter of the $116 million needed for this year’s Coordinated Aid Programme (CAP) has been funded, with critical shortfalls in key areas such as health and protection.


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