Central African Republic: tens of thousands have fled

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond to whom quoted text may be attributed at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes in the Central African Republic (CAR) following a failed coup attempt last month that triggered a government crackdown on the opposition. Some 60,000-70,000 have been displaced internally in areas south of the CAR capital of Bangui. Another 14,000-17,000 CAR residents went to Equateur Province in the north-western corner of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

UNHCR has dispatched a four-member team to Zongo and nearby villages in the Equateur Province to coordinate emergency assistance with aid agencies operating in the area. Aid operations were also planned for some 600 CAR refugees in the northern towns of Betou and Impfondo on the Republic of Congo side of the Oubangui River. Hundreds of refugees are reported arriving daily in these areas.

The refugees said they fled their homes after the government mounted a crackdown in the wake of a failed coup attempt on May 28 by followers of former army chief Andre Kolingba. The attack on President Ange-Félix Patassé's residence in Bangui reportedly left scores of people dead. In the following weeks, troops reportedly hunted down members of the Yokoma ethnic group, to which Kolingba belongs.