News / Africa

UN Aims to Evacuate 19,000 Muslims Under Threat in Central African Republic

Men stand in a cell block for Muslim detainees, who are separated from the rest of the Christian inmates, at the central prison in the district of Wango, in the capital Bangui, March 21, 2014.
Men stand in a cell block for Muslim detainees, who are separated from the rest of the Christian inmates, at the central prison in the district of Wango, in the capital Bangui, March 21, 2014.
Reuters
The United Nations said on Tuesday it was trying to evacuate 19,000 Muslims urgently from Bangui and other parts of Central African Republic who are surrounded by anti-balaka Christian militia threatening their lives.
 
Anti-balaka forces control major routes to and from Bangui as well as many towns and villages in the southwest, the U.N. refugee agency said. The militia has become more militarized as it steps up attacks on Muslims and African Union peacekeepers.
 
“What we don't want is to stand by and watch people being slaughtered,” UNHCR spokeswoman Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba told a news briefing about a conflict that U.N. officials have warned could spiral into genocide.
 
“This is what could happen because the only thing keeping them from being killed right now is the presence of the French troops and the MISCA,” she said, referring to African Union peacekeeping forces, known as MISCA.
 
Mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power a year ago, perpetrating abuses on the majority Christian population that triggered waves of revenge attacks, leading to thousands of deaths and displacing hundreds of thousands of people.
 
Seleka rebels gave way in January to an interim civilian government. But the government - backed by 2,000 French and 6,000 African Union peacekeepers - has been unable to halt attacks by anti-balaka militias on Muslims, thousands of whom have fled to neighboring countries or sought shelter in camps.
 
The anti-balaka pose a particular threat to Muslims in the PK12 neighborhood of Bangui; the towns of Boda, Carnot and Berberati to the west of the capital and Bossangoa to the north, Lejeune-Kaba said.
 
“We fear for the lives of 19,000 Muslims in those locations. UNHCR stands ready to assist with their evacuation to safer areas both within and outside of the country,” she said.
 
Deterioration in Security
 
At least 60 people have been killed in Bangui since March 22, mainly in a series of clashes between anti-balaka and Muslims, U.N. human rights spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly said.
 
“In the light of this further deterioration of the security situation, we once again urge states to support the secretary-general's urgent appeal for thousands more peacekeepers and police,” Pouilly told the briefing.
 
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned on Monday against any support or facilitation of violence by armed groups in Central African Republic after Chadian troops were accused of opening fire on civilians and killing at least 10 people at the weekend.
 
The Security Council began talks on Monday on a resolution to create a U.N. peacekeeping force, which could assume authority from the African Union on Sept. 15.
 
Muslims in Boda have told the UNHCR that they will leave on their own if it cannot evacuate them, Lejeune-Kaba said.
 
The agency is looking into relocating Muslims to Kabo and Moyen Sido in the north near the border with Chad, where the presence of the anti-balaka was far weaker, she said.
 
Asked whether this would not lead to partitioning CAR into a Muslim north and Christian south, Lejeune-Kaba said the relocation was to avoid an imminent threat to their lives and did not affect the whole of the country's Muslim population.
 
“Relocating people now out of danger does not preclude their return. On the contrary, what we want is to see people be able to return at some point,” she said. “But the tensions are such right now that it is just not possible. It's almost hopeless, to be honest,” Lejeune-Kaba said.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs