BANGUI (Central African Republic)
At least 25 people in the Central African Republic have been killed in recent sectarian clashes between armed groups, while a new wave of thousands have been made homeless by the violence, the UN has said.
In the central city of Bria, preliminary estimates indicate “at least 10 bodies and about 50 wounded” after fighting between two rival factions of an armed group on September 7 and 8, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in its weekly report on Tuesday.
In the east of the poor landlocked country, around 15 people were killed and some 80 houses torched in a violent confrontation between two communities in the village of Yakapi, OCHA added.
OCHA’s death toll is in addition to at least six people killed since Thursday in Batangafo, a northwestern town where more than 28,000 are without aid, according to several humanitarian sources.
The UN humanitarian coordinator in Central Africa, Najat Rochdi, “condemned the attack targeting civilians and humanitarian organisations at Batangafo,” where an NGO worker was among those killed.
Half of the 4.5 million Centrafricans depend on humanitarian aid, according to the UN.
On Friday, Amnesty International reported that civilians in central areas of the country were enduring “a horrifying surge in torture, pillage and forced displacement”.
The number of displaced people has grown from 400,000 in January to 800,000 in August, according to the country’s committee for international NGO coordination.
The Central African Republic, a former French colony, was pitched into a sectarian war in 2013 after President Francois Bozize was overthrown by a coalition of rebel groups called the Seleka, who in turn were driven from power.
Renewed violence among different armed groups has erupted as they fight to establish zones of influence and gain control of natural resources, which include diamonds, timber and gold. UN aid chief Stephen O’Brien warned in late August that there were early signs of genocide in the country, according to diplomats.
Meanwhile, CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadera sacked his defence minister on Tuesday evening, according to a state radio broadcast, amid growing violence that threatens to spin the country out of control.
The dismissal of Levy Yakete, who was blacklisted by a United Nations Security Council committee in 2014 for his role in a bloody 2013 civil war, was part of a wider Cabinet reshuffle. The statement did not say if his dismissal was related directly to growing violence.