Muslims flee Central African Republic - only 1,000 remain out of 100,000 in capital
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
3/10/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Fleeing religious violence, fewer than 1,000 Muslims remains out of the more than 100,000 Muslims who once lived in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic. United Nations aid chief Valerie Amos says the upheaval has been triggered by a campaign of violence by Christian militias.
Aid workers fear malaria and dysentery in makeshift camps with the onset of the six-month-long rainy season due to begin in April.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Amos added that With 650,000 people already displaced by the religious conflict, the U.N has received far less than a fifth of the $551 million it asked for in December to provide food, medical care and shelter.
"The demography of CAR is changing, from a situation where you had 130,000 to 145,000 Muslims in Bangui, to where you had around 10,000 in December," Amos told a news conference. "That number we think has now gone down to 900. So we have to act very rapidly."
The Security Council last week discussed a proposal for a nearly 12,000-strong peacekeeping force to stop the killing -- but has reached no decision. The United States and Britain are concerned by the cost of a large force, while France is expected to submit a draft resolution in the coming weeks.
France has deployed 2,000 troops to support a 6,000-strong African Union peacekeeping mission in the country of 4.5 million people that has failed to contain the fighting.
"More troops are needed now to restore security and stabilize the country," Amos warned. The deployment of a U.N. peacekeeping force would take at least six months.
Most of the Muslims, estimated to be 290,000 strong, have fled across the border into neighboring countries. In the west of the Central African Republic, many towns have lost their entire Muslim populations following a mass exodus.
Tens of thousands have been killed since the Seleka, a coalition of mostly Muslim northern rebels, seized power a year ago, according to Human Rights Watch. Many of its fighters embarked on a 10-month campaign of looting, torture and murder.
Christian "anti-Balaka" militias have stepped up reprisals against Muslims, with the departure of Seleka leader and interim president Michel Djotodia in January.
"We have made suggestions, for example that we should be perhaps targeting three or four cities to try to stabilize those cities, to try to make sure that they retain a mixed population," Amos told a news conference in Geneva.
Aid workers fear malaria and dysentery in makeshift camps with the onset of the six-month-long rainy season due to begin in April. The sprawling settlement of cardboard shacks and tarpaulins beside Bangui airport, home to around 70,000 people, is just one example of the dire situation many face.
Efforts to bring humanitarian supplies to a desperate population are being complicated by attacks on aid distribution sites by armed groups as well as robberies and looting, Doctors Without Frontiers says.
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