News / Africa

CAR Insecurity Worsens Humanitarian Crisis

Internally displaced people wait for rations at a World Food Program distribution point near a makeshift camp set up in Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 13, 2013.
Internally displaced people wait for rations at a World Food Program distribution point near a makeshift camp set up in Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 13, 2013.
Anne Look
The communal clashes that broke out in the Central African Republic just over a week ago have killed more than 600 people and displaced approximately 100,000 in a matter of days. Aid agencies say French and African troops there need to do more to protect civilians if there is to be any hope of heading off a more serious humanitarian crisis.

Intense fighting kicked off in the capital, Bangui, on Dec.5. Christian militiamen clashed with the Muslim ex-rebels who had seized control of the country in March, plunging it into a chaotic, downward spiral.

The fighting has devolved into sectarian clashes in parts of the city despite the arrival of French and African troops under a U.N. mandate to restore order.

Residents have fled to approximately 30 sites around the city. The airport is now home to more than 40,000 people.

"We are doing the best we can," said Adel, who has been squatting with about 100 others at the St. Jacques church compound. "Those who have money go out in the neighborhood and buy things like manioc flour, fish or peanut paste and come back to cook meals. Sleeping is a big problem because there are too many mosquitos. Not everyone has a net and so some people just try to cover up with sheets."

Adel said he has seen French and African troops out during the day but it's the night time that's the problem.

France has 1,600 troops on the ground. The African Union is upping its deployment to 6,000.

Amnesty International says the African Union needs to provide a detailed plan on how those troops will protect civilians.

Amnesty's Central Africa research director says international troops need to do more patrols, and not just on the main roads.

"There are no security mechanisms in place to allow people to go home and sleep at night in peace," said Christian Moukosa. "Sure, it will take time to get these in place, but that is what it will take to reassure people, as some have been getting killed going home now."

Moukosa said those at risk include combatants who have been disarmed by French troops, only to be attacked by the population.

Both the Muslim ex-rebels and the Christian militias opposed to them have been accused of committing serious abuses against civilians this year.

The violence of the past week marked an explosion of tensions that have been mounting for months.

Aid agencies say they are facing serious logistical and security challenges.

Paris-based NGO, Action Against Hunger says in the northern town of Bossangoa, 40,000 Christians have fled to the archdiocese in the past two months, and the number of Muslims taking refuge at a school across town has quadrupled to more than 6,000 in the past week.

The NGO's regional operations director, Alain Coutand, says impartiality is a key challenge. It is dangerous for relief workers to appear to be helping one community and not another.

Tensions are running so high. People are tired and frustrated," Coutand said. "There is a sort of hatred that has come out. So there is insecurity at distribution sites. There are people who are armed, people who are exhausted. It is very complicated."

Back in Bangui, there are only two hospitals open where Doctors Without Borders has been treating pregnant women and scores of wounded.

MSF says hospitals have been attacked and medical staff threatened in the past week. The group's country director, Sylvain Groult, says the hospitals don't have any protection, and that armed men have been trying to force their way in.

"It's just one of those things that happens and makes the staff very afraid for their lives, especially when working at night," Groult said.

He says aid is starting to reach people squatting around the city but it is still largely insufficient.

"Right now at the airport, we have approximately 40,000 people that have no shelter living out in the open and last night around 10 o'clock and for a few hours, there was a heavy, heavy downpour, and the nights are starting to get cool."

He said water, latrines and shelter are the most urgent needs and the risk of disease - epidemics like measles and cholera - is mounting by the day.

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs