News / Africa

UNHCR Reports Looting, Violence in Central African Republic

Central African Republic soldiers in President Francois Bozize's convoy brandish weapons, Bangui, Jan. 10, 2013.
Central African Republic soldiers in President Francois Bozize's convoy brandish weapons, Bangui, Jan. 10, 2013.
Lisa Schlein
Aid agencies are reporting widespread displacement and looting of villages in areas under control of the Seleka rebel coalition in the Central African Republic. An assessment mission by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and U.S.-based Mercy Corps last week to the central town of Bambari found a situation of utter desolation.
 
The first mission to the region since last December's takeover by the Seleka rebel coalition of major cities in the north and center of the Central African Republic, the findings do not bode well for the stability of the peace agreement signed between the government and rebels last month.
 
According to a press release quoting U.N. refugee agency spokesman Adrian Edwards, "Villages along a 100-kilometer stretch of road between Grimari and Bambari were almost completely deserted, with most residents hiding in the bush."
 
"The villagers we managed to speak to reported aggression by armed groups who seek fuel, money and food," he said. "These visits are sometimes accompanied by violence against men and women, including beatings with electric cables. A village chief reported being flogged on 3 February by rebels who were trying to get him to reveal where villagers were hiding their possessions."
 
Edwards says a camp near Bambari housing some 2,000 Sudanese refugees was also not spared. "Community facilities, the distribution center and the warehouse of an NGO partner, have all been looted," he said. "Solar lamps that were used to light the camp have also been taken away.
 
"In Bambari, there has also been widespread looting, including of UNHCR's own warehouse," he added. "Offices of UN agencies, including UNHCR and international NGOs, continue to be looted and ransacked."
 
Armed rebels launched an offensive against the government in early December, accusing President François Bozizé of breaching the terms of peace deals in 2007 and 2008. In a matter of weeks, the rebels seized most of the country's major towns and cities.
 
As the rebels approached the capital, Bangui, President Bozizé agreed to form a government of national unity with the rebels.
 
The Central African Republic is one of the poorest countries in the world, with some of the highest rates of child mortality and child malnutrition. The U.N. Children's Fund reports nearly 1.8 million people are affected by the recent conflict, with almost half in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
 
UNHCR spokesman Edwards says aid agencies would like to help those people, but the situation on the ground is too dangerous for aid workers to move around safely. 
 
"Access for humanitarian work in CAR remains very limited as a result of the lack of security guarantees, for both humanitarian workers and for people in need," he said. "In this context, it remains difficult to deliver assistance to refugees and internally displaced persons, and conduct activities for their protection."
 
"UNHCR is appealing to the government and the Seleka rebels to facilitate better access for humanitarians to populations in need," the group's press release said.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs