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

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party 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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs