UNHCR warns of imminent attack on civilians in the Central African RepublicListen /
Nearly 15,000 civilians have been surrounded by armed groups in the Central African Republic and there is imminent danger that they will be attacked, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR.
The majority of those trapped are Muslims and are scattered in 18 locations in the northwest and southeast of the country including some locations in the capital Bangui.
UNHCR says militia men from the mainly Christian anti Balaka rebel group are threatening to launch an attack and is appealing to the international force currently in the CAR to provide protection.
Adrian Edwards is UNHCR's spokesperson in Geneva.
"UNHCR and our partners are responding to these situations through protection –by-presence, humanitarian assistance, advocacy for protection measures and in exceptional cases, through facilitating the movement of these communities to safe sites. But humanitarian efforts alone cannot be sufficient solution for this crisis. We are appealing again to all armed elements to stop indiscriminate attacks against civilians. We are also calling for the deployment of more international troops as their numbers are significantly far too low considering the size of the country and the scope of the crisis. CAR's new government needs urgent support to undertake effective law enforcement and in particular through deployment of police forces and reestablishment of a judicial system to end impunity. Armed militias need to be disarmed, demobilized and when possible reintegrated. Quick development action is also needed."
UNHCR says moving the besieged civilians to safer locations would be a short term solution but adds that any population movement was likely to inflame tensions inside the Central African Republic.
Patrick Maigua, United Nations, Geneva.