A senior United Nations humanitarian official has kicked off a five-day visit to the Central African Republic (CAR) by visiting a north-eastern town that last month was the scene of deadly inter-ethnic violence that also displaced several thousand inhabitants.
Catherine Bragg, the UN’s Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, yesterday toured Birao, where armed rebels burned more than 600 homes and forced nearly 4,000 people out of their homes and into surrounding bush areas during two separate attacks in June.
“I start my visit here in compassion and solidarity with people of this town who have suffered from the effects of recent ethnically motivated violence and to see for myself the scope of the humanitarian situation,” she said, according to a press release issued by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
“I am deeply concerned by the limited protection of populations that has led to the displacement of many families and the insecurity that is hampering the work of the humanitarian organizations.”
Ms. Bragg, who was accompanied by Rima Salah, the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for the UN Mission in the CAR and Chad (MINURCAT), met with local authorities in Birao, internally displaced persons (IDPs), aid workers and MINURCAT forces.
Close to the border with both Chad and the Darfur region of Sudan, Birao is extremely isolated and difficult for aid workers to reach, especially in the annual rainy season, when the dilapidated roads become impassable.
The clashes last month are part of a resurgence in violence and displacement across the north of the CAR, one of the poorest countries in the world.
Ms. Bragg, who is also Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, will travel to Bangui, Kabo and Paoua during the remainder of her visit, and she is slated to meet with Central African Prime Minister Faustin-Archange Touadera and other senior Government officials.