UN: UN refugee agency condemns attack IDP camp in CAR

New York, US (PANA) - Following the killing and revenge attack on a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Central African Republic (CAR) town of Batangafo, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has expressed concern about the spreading insecurity in the country and condemned the violent attack on the camp.

"We strongly condemn these horrific acts that have cost the lives of innocent people. We call on all actors to restore calm and respect the civilian and humanitarian character of IDPs' camps," said Charles Mballa, UNHCR’s Deputy Representative to CAR.

According to preliminary reports from UNHCR, rebel fighters entered the camp on Tuesday to reportedly avenge the killing of two young Muslim men earlier that day in the same camp.

The UNHCR official, in a statement obtained by PANA in New York, said the rebels fired shots and torched huts and community shelters, triggering panic and killing five people, including an elderly woman who was burnt to death in her shelter.

He said about 5,500 people fled the camp and sought shelter in safer areas near a camp for UN peacekeepers and the compound of Médecins Sans Frontières, as nearly 730 huts were destroyed in the attack along with a youth centre.

He also reported fresh violence and forced displacements erupting in other areas, including Bambari, where on Wednesday morning armed men believed to be ex-Séléka killed two students.

Mr. Mballa said the Bambari killings followed an attack last Friday on the village of Awatche, which forced some 900 people to flee to a UNHCR-run camp housing 1,850 Sudanese refugees in Pladama Ouaka.

"We all have a shared responsibility to protect civilians and preserve the neutrality and security of safe havens," he added.

The UNHCR official also observed that any incident can trigger spiralling violence in the country and recalled that despite relative calm since January 2015, the capital Bangui has been severely affected by violence since 26 Sept., when armed clashes left at least 90 people dead and forced more than 40,000 people to flee to safer areas following the killing of a Muslim taxi driver.

UNHCR estimates indicate that CAR had an internally displaced population of approximately 399,000 (as of mid-October), while almost 460,000 had fled to neighbouring countries.
-0- PANA AA/SEG 12Nov2015

12 november 2015 01:24:43

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