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CAR ceasefire breaks down

by
01 August 2014

by a staff reporter

HANNAH MAULE-FFINCH/TEARFUND

Relief effort: food being distributed in the CAR by a Tearfund partner 

Relief effort: food being distributed in the CAR by a Tearfund partner 

THE situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) is "extremely precarious", charities say, after reports that the ceasefire signed last week between the largely Muslim Seleka rebel group and the Christian anti-Balaka militias has already broken down.

The charity Tearfund has been working in the area, where a quarter of the population - 4.6 million people - have been forced from their homes since the fighting broke out after Seleka rebels seized power last year. Thousands have been killed.

The ceasefire agreement was signed by representatives from both sides in Brazzaville, Congo, after three days of talks, during which the Seleka rebels dropped demands for the country to be split on religious lines. But immediately there were reports that fighting had broken out again in volatile areas.

Katie Harris, from Tearfund, has just returned from the CAR. "We know the ceasefire is very precarious, and, in some areas, fighting has carried on," she said. "But it is a start, and the fact that the ceasefire was signed is answer to prayer, and we thank God for it.

"The rule of law in the country has completely broken down, and the people we are working with -many of them women who have been raped - have nowhere to go for justice. Many of their husbands have been killed, or have fled.

"We are so grateful to the British public who have responded to our appeal for the CAR so generously. We are working with displaced people, those who have fled their homes, and helping women to get the medical attention they need."

One of those women helped by Tearfund described her trauma: "I ran for a long time to try to get away, but . . . they kept on shooting to stop me. . . the three of them raped me until I lost consciousness."

Tearfund's appeal has so far raised almost half a million pounds.

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