UNHCR seeks protection of civilians in Central African Republic
UN refugee agency urges authorities to act after thousands flee 10 days of violence in areas of the capital.
GENEVA, 29 August (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency on Thursday called for authorities in the Central African Republic to protect civilians from fighting in the capital that has killed at least 10 people and forced thousands to flee.
"UNHCR is deeply concerned for the safety of the civilian population, especially those who are forced to flee from their houses in search of safety," said Liz Ahua, deputy director of UNHCR's Bureau for Africa.
"We urge the authorities to use all means to stop attacks against civilians, restore security and protect the population," said the UN refugee agency official.
Ten days of arbitrary arrests, detention, torture, extortion, armed robberies, physical violence, restriction of movement, lootings and other attacks on civilians have displaced thousands of people. UNHCR said those affected, mainly from the Boy-Rabe and Boeing neighbourhoods, are seeking refuge in other parts of the capital.
So far, 10 people have reportedly been killed, the agency said. The newly displaced are sheltered in hospitals and churches, or with relatives. Some 500 people have found shelter in the Hôpital d'Amitié, where overcrowding and deteriorating sanitary conditions are a major concern.
"Since last week, we are facing a confusing security situation. People are leaving their houses to escape violence and abuses," Ahua said.
By Thursday morning, 5,000 to 6,000 people, including many women and children fleeing Boeing district, had taken refuge at Bangui International airport, blocking the runaway and forcing flights to be rerouted to Cameroon.
There were already over 206,000 internally displaced people in the Central African Republic before the recent events because of conflict inside the country.