UNHCR finds looting and empty villages in Central African Republic

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Ruined and abandoned house in the northern Central African Republic. Photo: IRIN/Anthony Morland

Villages in the northern part of the Central African Republic have been looted by armed groups who have terrorized and forced residents to flee, according to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).

A joint mission by UNHCR and Mercy Corps, last week went to the town of Bambari, about 400 kilometres northeast of the capital Bangui, to assess the situation.

The agency says the mission found widespread displacement with villages along a 100 kilometre stretch of road between Grimari and Bambari almost completely deserted with most residents hiding in the bush.

UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards says that Camp Pladama Ouaka, housing approximately 2,000 Sudanese refugees and located about 10 kilometres from the town of Bambari, has not been spared.

"According to our colleagues, community facilities, the distribution centre, and the warehouse of an NGO partner, have all been looted. Solar lamps, which were used to light the camp, have also been taken away. In Bambari itself there is also widespread looting, including of our warehouse. Tarpaulins, blankets, soap, mosquito nets, mats, jerry cans, buckets, clothes, lamps and solar panels for 3,000 refugees and IDPs have all been stolen. Offices of UN agencies, including UNHCR and international NGOs continue to be looted and ransacked." (32")

UNHCR says access for humanitarian workers in the Central African Republic remains very limited as a result of insecurity.

It estimates that there are 80,000 internally displaced people or IDPS and 17,000 refugees, mostly Sudanese in the country.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1'33"

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