Voice of America (Washington, DC)

13 December 2013

Central African Republic: CAR Humanitarian Situation Worsens

Photo: Marcus Bleasdale/VII for Human Rights Watch
The Imam Ishmail Nafi at the displaced persons camp in the Ecole Liberte in Bossangoa praying for those killed the previous day during the anti-balaka attack on the town. Eleven people were killed outside his house while seeking safety from the attackers.

Nairobi — The humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic continues to spiral out of control as sectarian fighting in the capital displaces thousands. Now the peacekeeping force on the ground is being strengthened by a group of newly-arrived soldiers from Burundi.

Tens of thousands of civilians are taking refuge at the airport in the capital, Bangui. An eyewitness at the scene says more continued to arrive Friday as they fled the sectarian violence afflicting the city.

Aid agencies say more than 500 people have been killed in fighting that started last week between Christian militias loyal to former president Francois Bozize and members of the mostly-Muslim Seleka movement that seized power in March.

World powers are scrambling to bolster the African-led peacekeeping operations in the country to restore order. France recently increased its troop presence to about 1,600 soldiers.

The United States has started airlifting Burundian soldiers into the country to join the peacekeeping mission.

Speaking to reporters in Nairobi Friday, the top U.S. diplomat to Africa, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said the U.S. will consider additional requests for airlift support but will not maintain a military presence in the country.

"I don't think we'll be leaving planes on the ground. If we do the lift, we will be flying back out. So, again, it's not a permanent presence, she said."

Thomas-Greenfield said the U.S. has set aside about $40 million to support African Union peacekeeping operations, including training and equipping soldiers.

Meanwhile, the medical aid organization MSF (Doctors Without Borders) has criticized the "appalling performance" of United Nations humanitarian agencies.

In an open letter published Thursday, the aid group said the U.N. had failed to deliver much needed supplies including tents, food and soap to those displaced by the fighting.

The U.N. children's agency, UNICEF, says an airlift of 77 metric tons of supplies landed in Bangui Friday for distribution to children and families most in need.

Ads by Google

Copyright © 2013 Voice of America. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.

InFocus

Can Foreign Peacekeepers Rescue CAR?

The Imam Ishmail Nafi at the displaced persons camp in the Ecole Liberte in Bossangoa praying for those killed the previous day during the anti-balaka attack on the town. Eleven people were killed outside his house while seeking safety from the attackers.

As the UN and other international organization deploy more personel to the the country, analysts say past missions only calmed but never completely contained the conflict. Read more »