CAR: UNHCR condemns attack on humanitarian convoy, two dead

Briefing Notes, 29 April 2014

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Fatoumata Lejeune to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 29 April 2014, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

In Central African Republic, an attack yesterday on a humanitarian convoy transporting to safety members of the Muslim community left two people dead and six injured. The convoy, heading for Kabo and Moyen Sido in the north, was hit by a grenade believed to have been thrown by Anti-Balaka militiamen.

UNHCR condemns the attack and offers its condolences to the victims' families. It underscores the need to provide physical protection to displaced communities at risk.

The attack occurred at around noon yesterday, at Dissikou, 50 km from Kaga Bandoro, where the displaced were due to rest for a night before proceeding.

Onboard the convoy's 18 trucks were 1,300 people previously trapped in the troubled PK12 neighborhood of the capital, Bangui. They had fled to PK12 to escape inter-communal violence that has been tearing apart the country since December 2013. However, PK12 later came under threat, leaving the displaced living in constant fear of attacks without enough food, and in squalid conditions because of lack of sanitation facilities.

Taking into account their request to be moved to safer areas and given the imminent and serious threat to their lives the UN Humanitarian Country Team organized their relocation on Sunday 27 April. The operation was decided as a measure of last resort, under the leadership of the Senior Humanitarian Coordinator, Claire Bourgeois.

The convoy spent Sunday night near Sibut, before continuing its journey, which is due to last three days. The convoy was able to continue to Kaga Bandoro where it stopped to spend the second night and have a warm meal. A UNHCR team accompanying the convoy reported that three babies have so far been born during the journey. In Kaga Bandoro, people injured in the attack received medical assistance, together with five relocated that fell ill on the road.

This was the second relocation operation from PK12, following the movement of 93 people, including 35 children, to Bambari on 20 April. Local authorities in Bambari welcomed the relocated people. UNHCR participated in the operations in view of our commitment to promote the human rights of all the internally displaced, particularly the right to physical security, irrespective of their community background. UNHCR is committed to savings lives and alleviating the plight of all the displaced and to work with the government to that end.

As of 22 April 2014, there are 602,891 internally displaced in the Central African Republic. Among them, more than 15,000 Muslims remain at risk, as they are surrounded and threatened by anti-Balaka groups in 15 locations across the western part of the country.

UNHCR and its partners are supporting mediation efforts to allow for co-existence. Such efforts have already produced some positive results in areas like Bouboua, where people recently returned from the bush where they had sought shelter. UNHCR and other members of the Humanitarian Community are looking to reinforce these tendencies, with a clear focus on paving the way for the return of those who have relocated, those who remain displaced in CAR, as well as for the more than 348,000 refugees who fled to neighboring countries.

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