[QODLink]
Africa

UN: CAR violence displaces nearly one million

Fierce fighting has also restricted aid access to makeshift camp at the international airport, refugee agency says.

Last updated: 04 Jan 2014 03:02
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
A flare-up in violence between Muslims and Christians has forced many people from their homes [Reuters]

Violence in the Central African Republic has uprooted nearly a million people - a fifth of the population - and hampered aid efforts in the capital Bangui, according to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR).

A flare-up in violence between Muslim fighters and Christian militias has displaced more than 200,000 people in the past few weeks alone, leaving a total of 935,000 homeless, UNHCR said on Friday.

The number of people sheltering at a makeshift camp at the international airport has doubled in the past week to 100,000, but while the site lacks proper access to food and water, fierce fighting in nearby neighbourhoods has restricted aid access.

"Insecurity and chaos around the site... prevents us from doing any distribution," UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch told a news conference in Geneva.

"It's a horrible situation. We have heard a lot about revenge attacks happening inside health centres, where armed elements have gone and attacked patients."

A Muslim rebel group, the Seleka, unleashed a wave of killing and looting after seizing power in March. The deployment of 1,600 French and nearly 4,000 African Union peacekeepers has done little to contain the tit-for-tat violence between religious communities.

Cutting services

In the riverside capital alone, more than 510,000 people have been displaced - equivalent to more than half the city's population, UNHCR said.

Medical charity Doctors Without Borders said it was cutting services to a minimum at its airport clinic after stray bullets killed three children and injured 40 people this week.

"We are not going to continue to put the lives of our personnel at risk," Lindis Hurum, its coordinator at the site, told the Reuters news agency. "A team composed of five of our 16 doctors will be left in place for cases of extreme emergency."

Many of the displaced and injured inside the airport camp said they feared they were being abandoned.

"I owe my life today, like hundreds of others here, to MSF [Doctors Without Borders]. But with this suspension of their activities, it will be a massacre," said resident Saint Cyr Lamaka.

340

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.