Authorities in the Central African Republic (CAR) must protect civilians from the fighting which has killed at least 10 people and forced thousands to flee their homes in Bangui, the capital, the United Nations refugee agency said today.
“We urge the authorities to use all means to stop attacks against civilians, restore security and protect the population,” said Liz Ahua, the deputy director of UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees' (UNHCR) Bureau for Africa.
“Since last week, we are facing a confusing security situation. People are leaving their houses to escape violence and abuses.”
According to UNHCR, over the past 10 days arbitrary arrests, detention, torture, extortion, armed robberies, physical violence, restriction of movement, lootings and other attacks on civilians have displaced thousands of people. The agency said those affected, mainly from the Boy-Rabe and Boeing neighbourhoods, are seeking refuge in other parts of the capital.
Those that have recently been displaced are being sheltered in hospitals and churches, or with relatives. Some 500 people have found shelter in the Hôpital d'Amitié, where overcrowding and deteriorating sanitary conditions are a major concern, Ms. Ahua said.
As of this morning more than 5,000 people, including many women and children fleeing Boeing district, had taken refuge at Bangui International airport, blocking the runaway and forcing flights to be rerouted to Cameroon.
There were already more than 206,000 internally displaced persons in the Central African Republic before the recent events due to conflict inside the country. In addition, some 63,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries since the latest political crisis in the country erupted in December. The fighting has deteriorated the humanitarian situation in the CAR, eroding even the most basic services and affecting the entire population of 4.6 million people, half of whom are children.