GENEVA – The United Nations has warned that a widening conflict in Central African Republic might engulf the region, urging better security ties to protect almost 15,000 people, mostly Muslims, who are trapped in vulnerable camps and threatened by armed militias.
"These populations are at very high risk of attack and urgently need better security,” Adrian Edwards, UN High Commissioner for Refugees spokesperson, said in a statement obtained by OnIslam.net.
“Although violence has hit all communities in CAR, most of the people who are trapped are Muslims under threat from anti-Balaka militiamen.”
Central Africa In Crisis (OnIslam Special)
Issued on Tuesday, February 25, the UNHCR’s report revealed that the most vulnerable CAR civilians, at least 15,000 people, have been internally displaced to 18 locations in north-west and south-west CAR.
"Areas we are particularly worried about include the PK12 neighborhood in Bangui and the towns of Boda, Boar and Bossangoa,” Edwards was quoted by Reuters during Tuesday's press briefing in Geneva.
The report added that the UN commissioner has been working with partners to provide humanitarian assistance and ensure the security of the displaced civilians.
The UNHCR has called on rivals to end the escalating violence, urging an increase of international peacekeeping troops in the mineral-rich country.
“Humanitarian efforts alone cannot be sufficient solution to the crisis,” Edwards argued.
“We are appealing again to all armed elements to stop indiscriminate attacks against civilians.
"We are also calling for the deployment of more international troops as their numbers are far too low considering the size of the country and the scope of the crisis,” Edwards added.
The UNHCR report coincided with the approval of France's parliament to extend its military mission in the former French colony.
Back in December 2013, 1,600 French troops joined the 6,000-strong African peacekeeping forces deployed throughout the country.
The new vote will bring additional 400 troops to the mission that was due to end in April.
Naming the mission as Sangaris, a local butterfly, French commanders wanted to reflect the mission’s short life.
Yet, after three months of work, France’s military appeared unable to end atrocities committed against the country’s Muslim population, especially after the disarmament of Seleka groups which left Muslims vulnerable to anti-balaka attacks.
As the exodus of the CAR Muslims to the neighboring countries continues, the World Food Program (WFP) has warned on Tuesday of a looming food crisis in these countries who might fail to accommodate the ongoing refugees’ flood.
"We are facing a regional crisis that goes well beyond the borders of the Central African Republic," said Denise Brown, WFP’s West Africa Regional Director.
"These people – most of them women and children – have seen their homes burned and witnessed unspeakable violence and had no choice but to leave.
“They desperately need food and nutritional assistance and other support both inside CAR and in neighboring countries.
"They need it now and they should not have to wait,” Brown added.
According to the UN, more than 700,000 have been internally displaced since the eruption of violence in December 2012, along with 288,000 refugees who were forced to flee to the neighboring countries.
The recent violence has evacuated more than 150,000 who joined thousands of refugees in Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo, according to the WFP.
With insufficient funding, the WFP may not be able to meet the needs of the vulnerable CAR refugees and displaced civilians.
CAR, a mineral-rich, landlocked country, descended into anarchy in March of last year when Seleka rebels ousted François Bozize, a Christian, who had come to power in a 2003 coup.
Over the past weeks, anti-balaka Christian militias have raided Muslim homes killing children and women and looting and vandalizing properties.
Along with killing, kidnapping, torture and arbitrary arrest and detention, in the war-torn CAR, a UN investigation found evidences of sexual violence.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net - Read full article here
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