News / Africa

Thousands Flee Fighting in Central African Republic

The International Committee of the Red Cross distributes maize meal, beans and salt to the internally displaced

Kim Lewis

The ICRC says fighting in the northern part of Central African Republic has forced thousands of people to flee from their homes, some finding refuge with close relatives nearby, but most left to hide in the bush.  The organization says fighting between CAR and Chad government forces against the Popular Front for Recovery, an armed rebel group, has either partially or completely destroyed several villages along the road between Ouandago and Gondava, north of Kaga Bandoro.

“There are two cities about 30 miles from the place where most of the fighting took place. These two cities have been receiving people fleeing from the combat zone, but many, many of them are still actually in the bush.  These people who are in the bush are the most vulnerable and these are the ones the International Committee of the Red Cross is trying to provide food and water for,” explained Perry Proellochs, spokesperson for the ICRC office in Bangui.

Proellochs said gaining access to the scattered displaced people is difficult because of the violence taking place in the region.  He said once they are able to get to them, they are able to provide them with needed assistance.

Among some of the provisions being distributed by the ICRC are maize, meal, beans and salts.  The organization is also repairing wells and boreholes so water can be supplied.

The plight of people having to flee their homes because of fighting can leave families devastated and separated from each other for months and years.  However Proellochs shared one experience in which an abandoned baby was reunited with her grandmother.

“Three days after the fighting erupted, a family found a small 9-month old baby girl left in the bush.  [She] managed to survive and luckily enough, we heard about it and managed to get in touch with the persons who found her.  Then, luckily enough again, we managed to find the grandmother of the baby girl and a few days later the grandmother was reunited with her,” said Proellochs.

Proellochs said the baby’s parents still have not been found.

As fighting continues in Central African Republic, the ICRC said it will continue providing assistance to those in need.  The violence not only poses a security risk for families in the area, but also for workers providing humanitarian assistance to those still in the bush, where, according to Proellochs, people are scattered everywhere.

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