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Let CAR Muslims Leave: HRW

Published: 05/06/2014 03:47:40 PM GMT
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CAIRO – A leading human rights organization issued on Thursday, June 5, a strongly-worded statement calling for offering help for the trapped Muslims in Central African Republic to take refuge in neighboring countries. “Conceding that many threatened Muslims in the Central African Republic need to leave the country temporarily is an opti...(more)

CAIRO – A leading human rights organization issued on Thursday, June 5, a strongly-worded statement calling for offering help for the trapped Muslims in Central African Republic to take refuge in neighboring countries.

“Conceding that many threatened Muslims in the Central African Republic need to leave the country temporarily is an option of last resort, but there are no other immediate solutions,” Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), said in statement obtained by OnIslam.net on Thursday, June 5.

“Many Muslims in western Central African Republic have clearly and unequivocally expressed a desire to flee to neighboring countries, and they should be allowed to leave safely.”

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Over the past few months, CAR Muslims have been facing ethnic cleansing at the hands of anti-balaka Christian militias.

According to the HRW, the remaining Muslim populations of the ethnic Peuhl nomads have been trapped in the western parts of the country after the interim government and international peacekeepers prevented them from fleeing the sectarian civil war.

Guarded by African Union (MISCA) peacekeepers and French (Sangaris) troops, Peuhl Muslims in the western parts of Boda, Carnot and Yaloké are enduring endure unsustainable, life-threatening conditions.

Located 140 kilometers from the capital Bangui, Boda town is one of the last holdouts for 11,000 Muslims in western CAR that is constantly threatened by the anti-balaka attacks.

Forced to sleep in the open, hundreds of the trapped Muslims in Yaloké are suffering from respiratory diseases and malnutrition. Several deaths were reported in the recent weeks.

Moreover, the vulnerable Peuhl are threatened by peacekeeping forces to be shot if they tried to seek asylum in the neighboring countries, HRW revealed.

The ban, according to peacekeeping troops, was ordered by interim government after the killing of two fleeing Muslims by anti-balaka militias last April when a Muslim convoy of 1300 Muslims tried to escape.

“Muslim communities in the Central African Republic have faced persistent threats for six months, but the authorities haven’t yet developed a suitable response to their plight,” Bouckaert said.

“Keeping desperate Muslims in tightly guarded enclaves in terrible conditions is no way to deal with their situation.”

Under the International law, everyone has “the right to leave any country, including his own and to seek asylum abroad”.

‘Shocking State'

The UN food aid and refugee agencies have appealed for funds to assist asylum seekers, citing the deteriorating situation of CAR refugees in Cameroon.

“We must all act now or more children will needlessly suffer. We must intervene to save lives and prevent a worsening situation,” Executive Director of the UN World Food Program (WFP) Ertharin Cousin and UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, said in a statement obtained by OnIslam.net.

Giving an indication on the terrible conditions in CAR, both UN agencies couldn't offer assistance for nearly up to 2,000 CAR refugees per week, who are mostly women and children.

The statement by WFP warned that between 20-30% of the arriving refugees are acutely malnourished.

Humanitarian aid for nearly 90,000 refugees in 300 villages is affected by the heavy rains and poor rods, the agency added.

Terming it a “journey of starvation and death”, the UNCHR said that refugees walked for weeks, even months, to reach Cameroon.

“The challenge is much more than just ensuring safe haven – it’s about trying to save people’s lives after they arrive,” Guterres said.

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 months, anti-balaka Christian militias have raided Muslim homes killing children and women and looting and vandalizing properties.

Inter-religious violence has claimed thousands of lives and displaced a million people in the population of 4.6 million, yet such clashes are unprecedented in the poor, landlocked country.

Moreover, more than 82,000 central African Muslims have fled to neighboring countries including Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo and Chad.

The death toll has also climbed to more than 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, including women and children, the UN refugee agency stated in an earlier report.

In an earlier report, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has raised alarm of the retreating situation of the Muslim refugees in Chad who are mainly women and children.

Back in February 2014, the medical organization warned that about 35,000 refugees had endured the exhausted journey to Chad, travelling by truck and on foot for hundreds of kilometers.

Arriving at Chad borders, exhausted refugees were seriously injured, suffering from starvation and illnesses.

Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net - Read full article here

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