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Iran Press TV

Tens of thousands flee rising violence in C. Africa, UN says

Iran Press TV

Tue Feb 24, 2015 5:30PM

The United Nations says some 50,000 people have fled their homes in the Central African Republic over the past three months as violence keeps surging across the country.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said Tuesday that some 30,000 people have been displaced inside the country as the violence has experienced a surge since the beginning of the year.

UNHCR spokeswoman, Karin de Gruijl, who was addressing journalists in the Swiss city of Geneva, also said that 20,000 more have sought refuge in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo since December.

"There is just total lawlessness, and the civilian population is being caught in the middle," de Gruijl said.

A 2013 coup against the then president, Francois Bozize, pushed the Central African Republic into a sectarian conflict that still claims lives in the impoverished country. The Christian "anti-balaka" militias continue attacking members of the mostly Muslim Seleka group for what they see as the group's alleged role in the coup.

De Gruijl said the recent surge of violence has been mainly due to clashes between herders and local farmers with the Christian militias.

She said "some herders have turned to ex-Seleka militias for protection," making the situation worse.

According to the UN official, the recent military operation against the ex-Seleka in the eastern town of Bria has prompted deadly reprisal attacks by rebels from the nearby villages. Some 2,400 people have fled the area since February 15, most of them children.

Human rights groups have warned against the rise in cases of sexual violence in the country. Militants recently abducted three girls from the border area between DR Congo and CAR and allegedly raped them, according to one of the girls who managed to escape.

Around 90,000 people have been displaced since the violence erupted in CAR in December 2013. UNHCR says around half the refugees are living in camps in neighboring DR Congo, Republic of Congo, Cameroon and Chad.

MS/HSN/SS



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