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CAR: UN Says 1,400 Villagers Displaced By Bandits

Central African Republic: UN says 1,400 villagers displaced by bandits

11 June 2008 - About 1,400 displaced people are living in the village of Kamba Kota in the north of the Central African Republic in terrible health and security conditions after fleeing attacks by armed bandits on their villages, according to a report today from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Since the beginning of the year there has been a surge in attacks by bandits across the northern CAR. Groups of between 10 and 30 armed men - known locally as "coupeurs de route" or "zaraguinas" - roam the region, killing or assaulting villagers and travellers, kidnapping both children and adults, looting property and burning homes. In this case, the bandits reportedly killed 37 people in villages to the north of Kamba Kota in Ouham province.

The joint mission of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and the UN Office in the Central African Republic (BONUCA), who located the displaced people, have expressed concern about their health and security. Currently they depend on river water and cassava leaves for food, while living in huts made of branches and foliage.

Access to health care is problematic since the local health centre charges fees. However, with help from aid agencies they have been able to start building a school which will soon be operational.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that 1 million people in the northern CAR have been affected by either civil conflict or the banditry, with nearly 200,000 internally displaced and another 108,000 fleeing as refugees to neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Sudan.

ENDS

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