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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid