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CAR: fresh conflict spreads

27 June 2014

by a staff reporter

niek stam/tearfund

Manna? A woman carries a full bag from a Tearfund food distribution at a theological college in Bangui, in the Central African Republic

Manna? A woman carries a full bag from a Tearfund food distribution at a theological college in Bangui, in the Central African Republic

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 escape."


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