A humanitarian catastrophe unfolds in the Central African Republic
More than 600 people died in the past week in violence between Muslim rebels and Christian defense forces in the Central African Republic. The recent battle displaced more than 100,000 people in Bangui, the capital. Some 30,000 have sought refuge at the Bangui airport.
The turmoil prompted French peacekeeping troops–the CAR is a former colony of France–to intervene. Two French soldiers have been killed.
The sectarian bloodshed seems to have subsided for the moment, but the months of fighting have created a major humanitarian crisis. All told, a half-million people have fled their homes.
Aid workers warn that the humanitarian crisis is deepening.
“We are in the thick of an absolutely catastrophic situation,” Adrian Edwards, a spokesman for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, told reporters. “The needs are immense, and the situation is getting worse.”
Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) wrote an open letter to the UN to “express its deep concern about the unacceptable performance of the United Nations humanitarian system.” The MSF said it had asked for tents, food, and other supplies, and criticized the UN for focusing on evaluating the situation rather than offering “concrete action” to meet the country’s “glaring needs.”
Some images from a country in chaos.