Fighting in the Central African Republic has displaced more than 900,000 people, according to the U.N. refugee agency. VOA reporter says sites where the displaced gather are swelling, and that little or no aid is reaching those driven from their homes.
The situation in the Central African Republic appears to be growing worse by the day. Reporter Nick Long, who just arrived in the capital, describes dire conditions at the Bangui airport.
“You can see people in a kind of cage, almost, at one wing of the airport. Masses of people of people crammed into a small site there. But other people camped all around the airport, said to be 50,000, perhaps 100,000, just around the airport," said Long.
Long says similar sights can be seen in other parts of the capital.
“Outside the hotel I’ve been staying in, near the Chadian embassy, there are hundreds of people who have taken refuge on the streets, mainly women, children and the elderly. They are waiting for evacuation from Bangui and some are waiting for evacuation from the country," he said.
The Central African Republic has been in chaos since early December, when Christian militias launched attacks in Bangui, hoping to overthrow Muslim coup leader Michel Djotodia. The attacks unleashed a wave of sectarian violence.
Some aid agencies say a lack of security on the streets is making it difficult to help those in need of food, water and shelter.
Long reports that the people he spoke to say they aren't getting any assistance.
“Those people say they haven’t had any aid and they are surviving on the provisions of food they’ve been able to bring with them or they were able to buy from the Muslim shops and there are not many of those. It’s a very divided society here. They are there abandoned somewhat by the rest of the society. But having said that, there are hundreds of thousands of displaced from both Christians and Muslim communities; everyone is suffering from the displacement and the chaos," he said.
Long says that many people have been going to neighboring Chad. Other countries are also beginning to evacuate their citizens. Nigeria’s defense ministry says it has rescued about 800 Nigerian citizens and another 800 remain at the country’s embassy in Bangui.
The U.N. refugee agency spokesman Babar Baloch says the number of displaced people has risen sharply in recent weeks.
“On December 24th, we had 710,000 displaced in the country. Today that number has [risen] to over 935,000 people who are displaced inside CAR," said Baloch.
French and African peacekeepers in the capital have attempted to disarm militia fighters but have made little headway toward halting the violence.