30,000 flee violence in Central African Republic

An estimated 30,000 residents of the northern Central African Republic, CAR, are fleeing internally and to neighboring Chad to escape violence between civil warring factions.

Fighting broke out near the city of Paoua in CAR’s northern border between the Revolution and Justice, RJ, and the Movement for the Liberation of the Central African Republic People, MNLC, groups on Dec. 27, according to Doctors Without Borders, DWB, and the United Nations.

About 30,000 people living near Paoua have fled to other parts of the region since fighting broke out late last month. DWB officials said that fighting isn’t limited to conflict between the RJ and MNLC, but that these groups are torching villages and inciting “indiscriminate attacks on anyone found in the zone.”

Doctors in Paoua said they have treated at least 13 victims of violence since fighting broke out late last month.

“This is very little, taking into account the number of displaced people who reached Paoua and the extreme violence they report to our teams. Many tell of men on horseback shooting at anything that moves, of dead and wounded people left behind in the bush,” explained Gwenola François, head of DWB in CAR. “We are very concerned by the situation there (in Bangui).”

Josianne Wankian, a mother of nine, told DWB that on Dec. 28, she heard several gunshots just before armed men came to her door demanding all her food and money. In August of last year, armed men torched her home.

The U.N. Human Rights Agency, UNHCR, said it has now registered and is helping more than 5,000 from CAR who have escaped violence in Chad. The UNHCR says that most refugees are women and children.

Wankian, who escaped to Paoua says that the armed men have a reputation of killing adult males on site.

Nearly a fifth of the CAR population are displaced after five years of fighting between Muslim Seleka rebels and Christian anti-balaka militias.

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