CAR violence forces thousands to flee to neighboring Cameroon

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A makeshift camp for internally displaced in Bengui. FAO@PHOTO

Thousands of civilians have fled the Central African Republic into Cameroon in the past few days escaping fierce fighting between rival rebel groups, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

In the past ten days nearly 9,000 people have arrived in Kentzou in eastern Cameroon.

The majority of the refugees are from the Central Africa Republic, but UNHCR says there is also a large number of civilians from Cameroon, Nigeria and Mali.

The latest influx brings the number of CAR refugees in Cameroon to more than 20,000.

The refugees have been speaking of intense fighting between the Seleka and anti balaka militiamen in the capital Bangui and in other towns in the north west of the country.

Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba is UNHCR spokesperson in Geneva.

"The majority of them are Muslims who say they feared for their safety because of their perceived sympathy for the largely Muslim Seleka group. Living conditions are precarious for the new arrivals who are either hosted by impoverished local families, or living in mosques, a stadium or on the streets. UNHCR is working on converting a nearby campsite designated by authorities and plans to transfer refugees there by the end of next week. UNHCR has approached various embassies to take charge of citizens of other nationalities."

More than 838,000 civilians are internally displaced in the Central African Republic, with half of them living in makeshift sites in the capital Bangui.

UNHCR is says there is a high risk of a cholera outbreak at the sites, due to overcrowding, lack of water and sanitation facilities.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration 1.43″

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