World

Thousands flee fresh clashes in Central African Republic: UN agency

April 21, 2021
A woman starts a new life at the Doholo refugee camp in Chad after fleeing violence in the Central African Republic. — courtesy UNHCR
A woman starts a new life at the Doholo refugee camp in Chad after fleeing violence in the Central African Republic. — courtesy UNHCR

GENEVA — Recent fighting between government forces and rebels in northern Central African Republic (CAR) has forced more than 2,000 refugees into neighboring Chad over the past week, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday.

According to the agency, new arrivals in Chad reported having fled clashes, as well as pillaging, extortion and other acts of violence at the hands of rebel groups. Most of the displaced were from CAR’s Kaga-Bandoro, Batangafo and Kabo regions.

UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch said that to reach Chad, people had to wade shoulder-deep through the Grande Sido River, which flows along the Chad-CAR border, with the some carrying their few belongings on their heads.

“The refugees are now settled in Gandaza village and the bordering town of Sido, although some are having to resort to crossing back into CAR to find food or salvage what little is left from their properties,” he added.

Violence flared across CAR following last December’s contested elections, with armed elements allied with former president François Bozizé attacking several towns and villages. Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced within the country as well as into neighboring ones.

Chad currently hosts close to 11,000 of the total 117,000 Central African refugees who also fled to Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Republic of the Congo (ROC) in the wake of the post-electoral violence.

Longstanding humanitarian crisis

The influx slowed considerably since mid-March after government forces and their allies reclaimed most of the rebel strongholds, UNHCR said.

The lull allowed some 37,000 formerly internally displaced persons (IDPs) to return to their areas of origin, who now need help to rebuild their lives, it added.

Roughly the size of France, CAR has been plagued by conflict and insecurity for years.

According to the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) about 2.8 million people in CAR — 57 percent of the population — are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection.

The situation has been further complicated by the coronavirus pandemic, with rising hunger, loss of livelihoods, closure of schools, and a reported increase in violence against women and children. — UN News


April 21, 2021
110 views
HIGHLIGHTS
World
15 hours ago

Nearly half of Europeans unhappy with EU's COVID measures, poll finds

World
15 hours ago

Popular Party wins in Madrid regional elections as Podemos leader quits

World
16 hours ago

EU appoints special envoy for promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside Europe