At least two people were killed and six others injured in the Central African Republic (CAR) after an attack on an 18-truck humanitarian convoy relocating 1,300 Muslims to safety in the country's north, a spokesperson for the United Nations refugee agency today confirmed, renewing calls for protection of displaced people.
"The convoy, heading for Kabo and Moyen in the north, was hit by a grenade believed to have been thrown by anti-balaka militiamen," UNHCR spokesperson Fatoumata Lejeune told journalists in Geneva, referring to yesterday's attack believed to have been carried out by the mostly Christian armed group.
The anti-balaka, which translates as "machete proof," are fighting mostly Muslim Séléka rebels who led a 2012 coup. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and 2.2 million are in desperate need of humanitarian aid.
"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," said Ms. Lejeune.
According to information from the UN agency, the 18-truck convoy was moving people previously trapped in the troubled PK 12 neighbourhood of the war-torn capital, Bangui, where they fled to escape inter-communal violence.
However, PK 12 later came under threat, leaving the displaced in constant fear of attacks without enough food and living in squalid conditions because of lack of sanitation facilities. The move came at the request of the people themselves. This was the second relocation operation from PK 12, following the movement of 93 people, including 35 children, to Bambari on April 20.
The convoy has since continued its journey to Kaga Bandoro, where injured received medical assistance.
"A UNHCR team accompanying the convoy reported that three babies have so far been born during the journey," said Ms. Lejeune.