UNHCR – Worries deepen as CAR violence escalates
This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
A displaced boy stands in the mud after a rainy season downpour at a makeshift camp in Bria, Central African Republic, on May 26th 2017. © UNHCR/Cassandra Vinograd
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is enormously worried over the resurgence of violence being seen in parts of the Central African Republic. Renewed violence has erupted in the towns of Zemio, Bria and Kaga Bandaro in southern and northern CAR as clashes are reported inbetween self-defence groups and other armed groups. Civilians and humanitarian workers are also being targeted.
In Zemio, close to the border with Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), UNHCR staff are reporting intense strenuous weapons fire since Tuesday. Some houses close to UNHCR’s office were burnt down. Over 1,000 people have fled their homes. Many are seeking refuge in a Catholic church in the town, while some sixty six people have sought safety in the UNHCR compound – among them horrified women and children in fear of their lives.
Violence has also earnestly impacted Congolese refugees living in a camp in Zemio, which was invaded by armed dudes in latest days. Since the incident, many refugees including guys, women and children have returned to the DRC, in fear for their lives. The camp was hosting around Trio,000 Congolese refugees.
In the town of Bria, several hundred kilometres northeast of the capital, Bangui, clashes were reported on June twenty that continued for three consecutive days. Many people are reported to have fled to the pubic hair. Reports suggest a camp for internally displaced, hosting some Two,400 in the Ndourou IV district is now totally empty with its entire population having fled the latest attacks.
Indiscriminate attacks in Bria have left some one hundred thirty six people dead and thirty six wounded, with six hundred houses burned and an extra one hundred eighty looted. These are conservative estimates. People fleeing the violence speak of having witnessed brutal attacks, killings, robberies, lootings and kidnappings.
In a separate incident, unidentified armed studs attempted to break in to UNHCR accommodation in Kaga Bandaro in the north of the country on Wednesday night with the intention of attacking staff and looting belongings. The attack was thwarted by MINUSCA Coerces.
Insecurity is preventing UNHCR staff and other humanitarians to assess the utter extent of damages or displacement from the latest violence. However, our teams were able to distribute ease items including plastic sheets, blankets, mats, mosquito nets, kitchen sets, buckets and soap to more than five thousand households in accessible parts of Bria in the south over the past three weeks – despite the fragile security situation.
UNHCR renews its call on all parties to the conflict in the area to instantaneously end attacks against civilians and aid workers. UNHCR is also seeking instantaneous and unhindered humanitarian access to assist those affected by the latest wave of violence.
Violence in CAR has uprooted some 503,600 people inwards the country including more than 100,000 in 2017, and more than 484,000 have been registered as refugees in neighbouring countries (Cameroon, DRC, Chad and Republic of Congo). Some 21,500 have fled across the border into the DRC over the last several weeks
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