More than 800,000 people have been displaced in the Central African Republic as the inter-religious violence continues unabated.
FRANCE 24 reporters Catherine Norris Trent and Sylvain Rousseau travelled to the volatile north of the country, where Muslim rebels and Christian militias are still at large.
The town of Kaga Bandoro, several hundred kilometres north of the capital Bangui, is still patrolled by the largely Muslim ex-Seleka rebel fighters who briefly took power in the spring of 2013.
They are now accompanying the huge convoy of Muslims fleeing violence and heading further north. The protection is needed, as the town is ringed by pockets of the Christian “Anti-Balaka” militias.
“It’s not safe now, there's no security,” Djim Arun told FRANCE 24. “There's not even a state, there's nothing. That's why we're leaving.”
On the other side of town, Christian civilians from the region are regrouping, fearing fighting between the armed groups could break out.
"There is no law enforcement here,” said Martial Agoa. “We are at the mercy of god. Our only protection is God."
The armed groups aren’t targeting civilians in Kaga Bandoro but they are scared of being caught in crossfire.
250 Chadian troops have been deployed to protect the town. But according to the UN's Senior Humanitarian Coordinator Abdou Dieng, more boots on the ground are urgently needed.
“Right now… to stop this haemorrhaging of the population, we need more international forces to help Central Africans avoid total chaos,” he told FRANCE 24.
Muslims in mass exodus from Bangui
On Friday, some 10,000 Muslims fled the capital Bangui for neighbouring Chad, climbing aboard trucks guarded by heavily armed Chadian forces amid scenes of “absolute terror”.
At least one refugee was lynched and mutilated when he fell from a departing lorry.
“We witnessed hundreds of vehicles leaving Bangui,” said Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch. “There were so many we gave up counting.”
Bouckaert said that at least one Muslim fleeing the city had been lynched by the baying mob after he fell from a lorry, his neck slashed, and his penis, hand and foot cut off.
“These were scenes of absolute terror,” said Bouckaert. “It would be absolutely criminal to say that the situation is stabilising when we see people lynched in the streets like this.”
The Muslims' flight follows months of attacks by Christian militias on anyone perceived as supporting the former government, which is blamed for atrocities.
Date created : 2014-02-09