‘1000s flee to CAR airport from violence’
The United Nations refugee agency has said that thousands of people have fled to the Central African Republic (CAR)’s main international airport to escape violence in the country in recent days.
“Over the past 10 days arbitrary arrests, detention, torture, extortion, armed robberies, physical violence, restriction of movement, lootings and attacks on civilians have displaced thousands of people,” the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a statement on Thursday.
According to the statement, as many as 6,000 people have fled to M’poko airport in the capital Bangui.
The country has been the scene of violent clashes between hostile groups since its independence from France more than five decades ago.
On August 18, Michel Djotodia, the former leader of Seleka rebel coalition, was sworn in as the new president of the Central African Republic.
The new president promised “to preserve the peace, to consolidate national unity (and) to ensure the well-being of the Central African people.”
A recent UN report blamed the Seleka rebels for much of the chaos in the country, saying, “uncontrolled Seleka elements and unidentified armed groups” in the country committed “arbitrary arrests and detention, sexual violence against women and children, torture, rape, targeted killings, recruitment of child soldiers and attacks.”
In July, the International Federation for Human Rights said at least 400 murders by Seleka-affiliated groups had been documented since March.
There are many mineral resources, including gold and diamonds, in the Central African Republic. However, the country is extremely poor and has faced a series of rebellions and coups since it gained independence in 1960.