GENEVA, 13 August (UNHCR) – The UN refugee agency on Tuesday expressed extreme concern at reported lawlessness in Central Africa Republic, saying that the number of people displaced inside or forced to flee to neighboring countries continues to grow.
“Inside CAR itself there are now an estimated 206,000 Internally Displaced People,” UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told a news briefing. “Since mid-July we have seen an additional 4,125 refugees arriving in the Moissala area of southern Chad.”
There are now 62,714 refugees who have fled to neighboring countries since the latest CAR crisis erupted last December – 40,500 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 13,087 in Chad, 4,841 in Republic of Congo, and 4,286 in Cameroon.
“UNHCR remains extremely concerned over the situation inside CAR, with continuing reports of lawlessness and insecurity in many areas,” Edwards said.
UNHCR said a local UN staff member in Bangui, the capital, was attacked by rogue Seleka elements on Sunday night. They raided his home at midnight, extorted money, then took his bike and shot him in the chest. He is now recovering. Another local UN staff member was seriously wounded and her husband killed in a similar incident a week ago. Such night attacks in Bangui have become increasingly common.
“In rural areas, widespread fear is reported among the civilian population, who are responding in some cases by organizing vigilante groups,” said Edwards.
Clashes between the local population and elements of Seleka took place on Monday morning and the day before at Beboura, a village 18 miles from Paoua, a town near the border with Chad. The exact toll is still unknown but wounded people were moved to a hospital in Paoua.
UNHCR said last weekend it received reports that two people were killed by armed men allegedly affiliated to Seleka in Bossangoa, in the northwest prefecture of Ouham. Thirty other people were reported killed by the Seleka in the same area.
Access for humanitarian workers remains difficult, although UNHCR said it now had better access to the refugee camps at Bambari, Batalimo, and Zemio in central and southern CAR – which together host 11,252 mainly Congolese and Sudanese refugees.
The UN refugee agency completed a second round of food distribution in the camps last week, coupled with distribution of mosquito nets, blanket, plastic sheeting and kitchen sets for 8,000 refugees and 796 vulnerable people in the host population.
“UNHCR is again calling on the CAR government to do more to ensure the safety of people and their property across the country, to avert further displacement and suffering.” Edwards said.
UNHCR appealed for public and private donors to support this forgotten crisis. As of last Friday, its CAR operation was less than 30% funded, receiving only $8 million of the $28.8 million required to help refugees in neighboring countries.