TWO days of fighting this week between Christians and Muslims
have left more than 50 people dead in continuing violence in the
Central African Republic.
The latest attack on a village in the north-west of the country
was started by mainly Christian militia, leading to reprisals by
Muslim groups, witnesses told the news agency Reuters. One witness,
Ibrahim Alawad, was reported to have said that he saw bodies with
"hearts cut out" at the mortuary.
Violence in the largely Christian country started last year,
after a Muslim rebel group, Saleka, seized control of the
government. Saleka later stepped down, but an interim government
has failed to stamp out the violence.
The charity Tearfund said that more than 700,000 people have
been left homeless by the fighting. Nearly 300,000 - many of them
fromthe minority-Muslim community - have fled to neighbouring
countries such as Chad and Sudan.
The UN envoy to the Republic said that about 200,000 peoplefrom
16 minority communities are trapped, scared to move because "if
they leave, they may be attacked before they reach safety."
The Central African Republic is one of the world's poorest
countries, and it is estimated that the conflict has meant that 90
per cent of people are now surviving on one meal a day.
Tearfund has launched an emergency appeal for the 2.5 million
people - more than half the population - in need of humanitarian
assistance. "It is clear that we are now in a deepening and
protracted crisis," the head of West and Central Africa at
Tearfund, Martin Jennings, said.
"The conflict in the Central African Republic is causing death
and suffering on a massive scale, and destroying livelihoods, which
mean millions of people are forced deeper into poverty without