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Central African Republic: situation continues volatile

Briefing notes

Central African Republic: situation continues volatile

6 March 2003

We are extremely worried about the continuing volatile situation in Central African Republic (CAR). The instability inside CAR has driven some 26,000 people into neighbouring Chad and we are now checking reports of new refugees from CAR also turning up in the Republic of Congo. A UNHCR team from the Republic of Congo's northern town of Betou is being dispatched to verify reports of a new influx of some 600 Central Africans into the small town of Betikoumba, not far from Betou on the banks of the Oubangui River. Last month, some 200 Central Africans fled fighting in areas south of Bangui into the same area in the Republic of Congo.

According to reports from NGOs working in the area, refugees started arriving in Betikoumba yesterday morning following night-long fighting in nearby Mongoumba on Wednesday. The CAR town of Mongoumba is on the border junction between Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was not clear what caused the skirmishes between Congolese MLC rebels and the Central African Army, who otherwise are believed to be allies. The situation remains tense.

This new influx into the Republic of Congo from the south-westernmost part of CAR comes amidst a continuing outflow of Central African refugees and former Chadian immigrants from the north of the country into southern Chad. By the middle of this week, the number of new arrivals into southern Chad had climbed to 26,000. Daily numbers had subsided to some 100-150 people a day.