Aid Organizations Struggle To Provide Support For Displaced Persons After Government Forces Burn Down Camp In Central African Republic

Thousands of displaced persons have been rendered even more vulnerable following an attack on a camp housing internally displaced persons in Elevage, the Central African Republic (CAR).

Elevage camp was created following the brutal violence which rocked CAR in 2013-14. It is located on the outskirts of Bambari, one of the main towns in the central part of the country.

Many citizens, mainly from semi-nomadic communities sought refuge there after fleeing fightings in various areas.

In years to come and as fighting reduced, the site began to resemble a small town with six mosques and hundreds of shops, tents and other structures set up by the 8,500 displaced persons who settled there from towns such as Bria, Kaga-Bandoro, Ippy, Boali, Kabo and Bossangoa.

However, these 8,500 people are now at risk and on the move again, as the Elevage camp was burnt to the ground over the week, leaving many of them stranded and seeking refuge just a few kilometres away in Bambari town, either in the mosque compound or within the host community.

Aid agencies fear that if the renewed conflict which resumed in December, 2020 does not abate and with the rainy season around the corner, and also with the the lack of proper shelter and access to clean water, the risk of contracting diseases such as malaria, which is the main killer disease in the country, is imminent.

The makeshift camp in Bambari town, lacks health facilities, toilets and proper shelter, as IDPs are left to live in very precarious conditions, aid agencies say, as they struggle to meet up with the growing population in the camp.

The CAR has continued to see rise in clashes between government forces and non-state armed groups across the region. One of such clashes took place on the night of Friday 4 June, in the vicinity of Elevage camp.

This did not go down well with government troops, as they stormed the camp the following day, burning down everything in the camp, including an health post ran by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in the camp.

“They arrived at around 2 pm on Saturday and ordered us to leave the site immediately,” says Mahmoud a former resident of the camp.

“Guns were fired into the air, leading people to panic and run away in a hurry to vacate the place”

”Locals from surrounding areas took advantage of the situation to loot everything we had,” Mahmoud added.

He said, “They forcefully took our goats and stole our mattresses. Not long after, the site was burnt down.”

Meanwhile, teams from aid organisations continue to provide assistance to the displaced people, including providing clean water at the mosque in Bambari and distributing relief items and emergency food rations, but much more needs to be done, as the CAR remain at risk of even a larger humanitarian crises in the nearest future.

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