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Red Cross: Death Toll Mounts in Central African Republic’s North

Workers from the Central African Red Cross bury 13 victims of sectarian violence in a mass grave, in Bangui, Central African Republic, Jan. 5, 2014.
Fresh violence in the western and northwestern Central African Republic has resulted in more deaths, serious injuries and residents fleeing their homes and seeking safety in the bush.

The death toll from this latest regional violence is now estimated at 60 people, said Nadia Dibsy, spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Bangui. The bodies were discovered around Bossembele, Boyali and Boali and are being given proper burial by local Red Cross volunteers.

The ICRC and the Central African Red Cross evacuated over 30 people on Sunday. The spokesperson said the majority of the deaths and injuries were the result of machete attacks. Those with the most serious injuries were taken to the hospital in Bangui for treatment, while others were treated on the spot.

The Central African Red Cross Society joined the ICRC to make an urgent appeal for the inter-communal violence to end. “It is very important at this stage to remind all of the forces that are present in Bangui - international and regional forces, also the authorities of the country - that immediate measures need to be taken to protect the population, and to put an end to this violence,” Dibsy said.

“There’s been a lot of inter-communitary violence, which obviously has been brought about by the fact that here is really no representation of public order in these areas,” said ICRC’s Dibsy. “So violent events have broken out between different communities in the northwest, which has led to a lot of injured and dead.”

Since January 17, the two humanitarian organizations have been burying bodies discovered in the area. They have taken those seriously injured to Bangui’s Community Hospital, while also furnishing the hospital with medicines and other supplies.

The Red Cross has trained local surgical staff in specialized procedures such as treating gunshot wounds, and other weapon-caused injuries.

Dibsy said the surgical team at Bangui’s hospital is prepared to receive the most serious injuries. For those who fled into the bush, she says accessibility has been difficult, therefore it is hard for them to assess their needs.

“In these areas that we are visiting - Bossembele, Boyali, and Boali - there are local Central African Red Cross volunteers who are on the spot. And we’re providing them with first aid kits and materials to handle dead bodies, so they can provide assistance to the local population on the spot,” said Dibsy.