More than 600 killed in week of CAR violence – UN

2013-12-13 17:43

Geneva – More than 600 people have been killed in sectarian violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) in the past week, including 27 Muslims killed in a western village, the UN has said.

“We are seeing a further deterioration in the situation in the Central African Republic,” UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards said today. He said fighting and sectarian violence had killed 450 people in Bangui and 160 elsewhere in the country in the past week alone.

Some 159 000 people had also fled their homes in the capital, he added.

The killings outside the capital, which had been tallied by the National Red Cross and the Danish Refugee Council, had mainly taken place in the northwestern part of the country, he said.

The UN’s human rights agency said 27 Muslims had been killed in a single attack by “self-defence militias” known as anti-Balaka, in the western village of Bohong yesterday.

“We condemn any attack on places of worship and on religious freedom and urge all communities to exercise restraint,” said Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

She decried “a vicious cycle of attacks and reprisals” in the strife-torn nation.

The resource-rich but poverty-stricken majority Christian country was plunged into chaos following a March coup by mainly Muslim Seleka rebels.

A fresh wave of violence enveloped the country on December 5, prompting French troops to deploy last week in a bid to stop communal strife that had sparked global alarm and talk of a possible genocide.

Some 38 000 people have sought refuge at Bangui’s airport amid fears of sectarian violence. Edwards said they were “without latrines or washing facilities and with no shelter from the rains or sun”.

UNHCR has provided tents through its partner Doctors without Borders, which has set up a clinic at the airport.

Another 12 000 were at Bangui’s Saint Joseph Mukassa church, which has only one water point, Edwards said.

Some 460 people there were in need of medical attention, including 101 pregnant women. He said three women had already given birth “without equipment”.

Edwards lamented that aid so far had reached relatively small numbers – to about 3 500 families in Bangui and another 3 000 in Bossangoa.

“We appeal once again to all parties to let humanitarian help through and to protect civilians,” he said.

Many people were also continuing to flee the conflict-ridden country into neighbouring nations with some 1 800 flooding across the border to the Democratic Republic of Congo in the past week.

Since March, about 47 000 people have fled there.

In all, the crisis in CAR has driven more than 70 000 into surrounding countries over the past year, said the UNHCR.

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