Geneva/Bangui — As a number of cities in the north and centre of the Central African Republic, including Ndélé and Bria, have come under the control of armed groups, thousands of people have fled the fighting.
"The situation is made very complex by the number of parties involved and the population movements that the fighting and the fear of violence have unleashed," said Georgios Georgantas, the head of the delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Bangui. "Whatever happens, it is essential that the parties respect and protect the residents of areas where there is violence and tension. People's property must also be respected, not looted or destroyed. And those administering first aid to the sick and the wounded, or withdrawing them to safety or providing them with care, must be able to perform these tasks without obstruction."
"Our staff are hard at work bringing aid to people who have been harmed by the violence, in particular those who have been displaced and those injured in the fighting," said Mr Georgantas.
In the northern city of Ndélé, one of the first places attacked 10 days ago, the number of people who fled their homes to seek protection in the Catholic mission or in a military base near the airport is rising every day. Others prefer to remain outside the city, in rough shelters next to their fields.
"Yesterday, we delivered 16,000 litres of clean drinking water to the Catholic mission and the military base where displaced people have found refuge," said Gabriel Mukalaï, who heads the ICRC's sub-delegation in Ndélé. "Making sure that hygiene conditions are satisfactory for displaced people is our priority."
In Kaga Bandoro, where many displaced people have gone, the Central African Red Cross Society has deployed six first-aid teams with logistical support from the ICRC. Using a motorcycle, the first-aid workers are criss-crossing the city's neighbourhoods searching for any casualties in order to provide them with first aid and take them to hospital.