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Save the Children Calls for More Peacekeepers in Remote CAR

  • Kim Lewis

A Muslim child sits inside the St. Pierre church where she and hundreds of other Muslims are seeking refuge in Boali, Central African Republic, some 80kms (50 miles) north-west of Bangui, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. Clashes erupted between Anti-Balaka Chri
Save the Children appealed for greater peacekeeper access to rural areas of the Central African Republic as the international humanitarian organization cited earlier reports that more than 23 civilians died fleeing violence near the village of Vakap were killed by militias.

The January 17 attack on a convoy of trucks carrying Muslim families to a safer location began with grenades, followed by militia wielding clubs and machetes. Three children were among the dead. Another 22 were injured and hospitalized, said Michael McCusker, a Save the Children program officer.

McCusker said they were unable to identify the attackers. The truck convoy was heading for Vakap, about 30 kilometers outside of Bouar.

“What we need is a greater peace-keeping presence that can really extend out to these really remote, harder-to-reach areas. These two trucks were evacuating Muslims out of the country for their own safety. And they were attacked on a route that was extending them out to Cameroon,” McCusker said.

Save the Children’s country director in the Central African Republic, Robert Lankenau, welcomes the deployment of larger African Union and French forces with a stronger civilian mandate, but the protection is not reaching children in remote areas.

Save the Children is treating injured children and civilians from the January 17 incident at a nearby hospital that receives support from Save the Children. The more severe cases were evacuated to another hospital for advanced surgical treatment.

“In terms of the urgent treatment a lot of the cases were treated in our operating room upon receipt, so our positioning in the hospital ahead of time helped us save and prevent a lot more lives from being loss from this tragic attack,” said McCusker.

“Many of the communities were attacked with clubs, knives, machetes, as well as some gun injuries. So there was quite a lot of surgical treatment, and the more advanced grave cases, we stabilized,” said McCusker. “I think you can imagine the kind of chaos that ensued when we received these patients. We had a lot of the families trying to infiltrate the hospital.”

“These attacks against children cannot continue,” McCusker exclaimed.