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

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.