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Over 200,000 displaced by conflict in CAR, says UNHCR

January 30, 2021

Nearly half of those fleeing crossed over into the Democratic Republic of Congo. The national army has been battling rebels since a presidential vote took place in December.

Central African Republic security forces take measures around the party headquarters of current President Faustin Archange Touadera
CAR security forces have been battling rebels seeking to overturn a December 27 presidential voteImage: Nacer Talel/AA/picture alliance

Conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR) has displaced more than 200,000 people since violence erupted over a December election result, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Friday.

Nearly half of those fleeing crossed into the Democratic Republic of Congo, the agency said.

"Refugee arrivals into the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have reached 92,000 according to local authorities and some 13,240 people have crossed into Cameroon, Chad, and the Republic of Congo, since violence erupted in December 2020 ahead of CAR's general elections," the statement said. 

Thousands flee violence in CAR

Some 100,000 people remain internally displaced within the country. 

"The continuing volatility has hampered the humanitarian response and made access to the internally displaced more difficult," the agency said.  

The CAR army, backed by UN Russian and Rwandan troops, has been battling rebels seeking to overturn a December 27 vote in which President Faustin-Archange Touadera was declared the winner.

"Refugees have told UNHCR that they fled in panic when they heard gunshots, leaving their belongings behind," spokesman Boris Cheshirkov told journalists in Geneva. 

Vast distances and extremely poor road conditions mean that humanitarian assistance takes time to reach people in need, the UNHCR said. 

The resource-rich nation, with a population of 4.7 million, has struggled to find stability since a 2013 rebellion ousted former president Francois Bozize. The country plays host to vast sources of gold, diamonds, uranium and oil. 

In 2019, Bozize returned to CAR and announced his intended candidacy for the elections, but the Constitutional Court ruled that he did not satisfy the "good morality" requirement, over official allegations of torture and assassinations.

lc/sri (Reuters)