A month after French and African Union troops intervened in the Central African Republic (CAR), around a million refugees have fled inter-religious violence in the fragile and poverty-stricken country. FRANCE 24 reports from Bangui.
The United Nations estimates that half the residents of Bangui have fled their homes.
The CAR, already chronically unstable, plunged into chaos after mainly Muslim Seleka rebels staged a coup last March.
The French-led military intervention came amid resurging violence pitting former rebels against militias from the country's Christian majority bolstered by fighters loyal to the ousted regime.
FRANCE 24 joined a convoy of ethnic Malians -- all Muslims -- heading to the airport in Bangui, where up to 100,000 people are sheltering from the rampaging militias.
"It's not just the Malians, all the Muslims are being attacked,” one refugee, who gave her name as Mbou, said. “The Senegalese have already left; the Chadians, the Cameroonians, and the Nigerians as well.
In all, some 500 Malians are due to leave the city on two flights this week. Most of them have never left the Central African Republic and are leaving everything behind.
"I lost my son in law,” Toure told FRANCE 24. “The Anti-Balaka [Christian militias] cut him to bits, he is dead now."
The number of displaced people in Bangui increased 70 percent during December, from 214,000 to 370,000, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
"The humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic remains dire, as insecurity is making the delivery of humanitarian relief ever more difficult and as the number of people displaced within the country has now surpassed 935,000," Babar Baloch, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said on Friday.
The CAR has a population of around 4.5 million.
A total of 1,600 French troops and around 4,000 African peacekeepers are attempting to rein in the militias and bring some order and security.
Date created : 2014-01-06