Deadly attack on Bangui church forces 9,000 people to fleeListen /
An attack on a church in Bangui in the Central African Republic has left at least 17 people dead and 27 missing, thought to have been abducted. The attack took place on Wednesday at the Notre Dame de Fatima church, which was sheltering 9,000 internally displaced people.
Attackers threw grenades into the church ground before opening fire. A priest was one of those killed.
Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba, spokesperson for the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, says that, until now, churches, monasteries and mosques have been safe havens for internally displaced people across the country.
"UNHCR strongly condemns this attack against innocent civilians. We call again all sides of the armed conflict to protect civilians, in line with their obligations under international law. We also call on all sides of the conflict to allow for the delivery of critical humanitarian assistance and unhindered access to the people in need of protection and aid." (22″)
The thousands who fled from the church following the attack have either moved to surrounding areas or to 10 sites in Bangui and the adjacent area of Bimbo. Many fled with nothing at all, having escaped from the church with no money, no food and nothing to sleep on. Others were injured and in need of urgent medical treatment. UNHCR says that their hardship is compounded as sites for the internally displaced that they have fled to are overcrowded, with water, food, shelter and basic healthcare being in limited supply.
Nicki Chadwick, United Nations, Geneva.