Roundup: UN agencies race to offer aid amid high tensions in CAR capital
UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) -- UN agencies are racing to offer assistance to civilians and refugees of the Central African Republic (CAR) as incessant looting and riots have stirred fears that the battered country is inching toward the verge of collapse, a UN spokesman said on Tuesday.
Despite UN efforts to quell violence in the country, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Tuesday that tension remained high in Bangui, the CAR capital, and it is "negotiating to maintain appropriate protection for humanitarian organizations and their staff," Farhan Haq, acting UN deputy spokesman, said.
Meanwhile, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and its partners have been distributing tents, blankets, sleeping mats and other relief items to ease the suffering of the mostly women and children in the displaced sites, Haq said at a daily news briefing.
The World Food Programme (WFP) also joined the relief action, saying it is providing food assistance to people displaced in Bangui and Bossangoa, to the north of Bangui.
"The humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic remains critical and will worsen as people continue to be affected by violence. WFP together with partners, needs to be in the front- line to provide support and assist the most vulnerable," Guy Adoua, WFP's deputy country director, said on Tuesday.
The UN Security country passed last week a resolution authorizing increased military action by France and African troops in the CAR to try to end near-anarchy amid an upsurge in Muslim- Christian violence, killings, torture and rapes.
As an increasing number of civilians are uprooted by the surging violence in the CAR, the UN peace-building mission on the ground warned the fighting has become divided across sectarian lines.
In Thursday, a heavy fighting erupted between Seleka and militia groups in Bangui, which, according to the UN, killed nearly 400 people, injured hundreds more, and displaced an estimated 108,000 people.
The CAR, with a population of 4.6 million, has been marred by coups and rebellions. The situation took a sharp turn for worse in March when the rebel group Seleka (Alliance) ousted President Francois Bozize.
A transitional government, headed by Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye, has been entrusted with a mandate to restore law and order and pave the way for democratic elections, only to see a resumption of armed clashes between the Seleka troops and Christian militias, rendering half of its population into dire humanitarian situation.
According to the UNHCR, the internally displaced persons are staying mainly in churches, mosques, public buildings and the airport, where living conditions are "appalling."
"People there are sleeping in the open and it is raining," UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said on Tuesday. "Many of the displaced spend the night in the sites, and then return home during the day. But because they fear nightly attacks by armed elements, they go back to the IDP sites before the 6 p.m. curfew."
Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), Marixie Mercado, said on Tuesday that the UN agency will bring medicine and emergency supplies to several of the sites hosting the displaced across Bangui and to the two main hospitals that are treating the injured.
"UNICEF repeats its appeal to leaders of all armed groups to stop attacks on civilians, to protect hospitals and displacement camps, and to provide the space needed for humanitarian workers to reach people with critical assistance," she said.