Hundreds more flee Central African Republic to escape fresh violence

News Stories, 16 April 2013

© UNHCR/G.Casteele
Newly arrived refugees from Central African Republic at a transit centre in northern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of the Congo, April 16 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency on Tuesday called for an end to violence in Central African Republic (CAR) after fresh fighting in the capital, Bangui, forced hundreds more people to flee the country.

"In all, and from the recent instability in CAR, there are now well over 30,000 CAR refugees in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as well as some 1,024 new refugees in Cameroon and 6,728 in Chad," said UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards, in Geneva.

He said that new refugees in DRC had told UNHCR that Seleka forces who captured Bangui last month had opened fire on residents resisting or protesting against looting and abuses committed during disarmament operations. Young males, who account for around 80 per cent of the refugees who crossed this past weekend, have been particularly affected.

"In DRC, 1,200 CAR refugees arrived between Saturday and Monday. And the influx continues," the spokesman said. The new arrivals are mostly hosted by the local population but some have also found their way to Worobe camp, across the river from CAR and located almost 20 kilometres to the east of Zongo.

Those in Worobe crossed by boat to Zongo and walked to the camp which now hosts 3,707 refugees. Others are in the villages or staying in public buildings. UNHCR provided all new arrivals with warm meals and is working to move all of them to the camp.

"It is of urgent importance that the Seleka authorities put an end to violence against civilians and restore security in Bangui and the rest of the country. This is necessary both to stem the outflow, and to allow for resumption of critical humanitarian operations inside the country," Edwards stressed.

UNHCR estimates that there are 173,000 internally displaced people in Central African Republic. In addition to this there are 17,000 mostly Congolese and Sudanese refugees in CAR, plus some 4,000 new Sudanese refugees who crossed into northern CAR ten days ago following tribal clashes in the Um Dukhun area of Western Darfur.