• Monday, Nov 28, 2022
  • Last Update : 09:54 am

Thousands displaced after fire destroys camp in CAR

  • Published at 11:08 am June 19th, 2021
Central African Republic
Google map of Central African Republic

Elevage camp was born out of the brutal conflict that ravaged the country in 2013-14

Around 8,500 people have been expelled from their makeshift camp in Bambari in the Central African Republic after a fire destroyed it and renewed fighting broke out in the region, Doctors Without Borders said on Friday.

"Several thousand people have sought refuge in the compound of a mosque in Bambari town where they are living in very precarious conditions," the non-governmental organization known under its French acronym, MSF, said in a statement.

The Elevage camp, situated at around 380 kilometres north east of Bangui, "was burnt to the ground and a health post run by MSF in the camp was also destroyed," the statement said. 

Elevage camp was born out of the brutal conflict that ravaged the CAR in 2013-14, MSF said.

Located on the outskirts of Bambari, the country's fourth-largest city, people from mostly semi-nomadic communities sought refuge there after fleeing fighting in various areas. 

"In subsequent years, as periods of violence alternated with calmer phases, 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 people who lived there," MSF said.

CAR is the second least-developed country in the world according to the UN and suffers from the aftermath of a brutal civil conflict that erupted in 2013.

President Faustin Archange Touadera was re-elected in December on a turnout of fewer than one in three voters.

The ballot was hampered by armed groups that at the time controlled around two-thirds of the country, and rebels mounted an offensive in the runup to polling day.

Since then, the army, backed by UN peacekeepers, Rwandan special forces and Russian paramilitaries, has wrested much of the territory from rebel control.

According to one camp resident, named in MSF's statement as Mahmoud, conditions in the mosque compound where people had taken refuge "are deplorable. We sleep on the ground, with no shelter, mat or mosquito net. There is no food, no latrines and not enough clean water."

MSF gave no indication about the possible cause of the blaze, but said that clashes had taken place on June 4 between government forces and non-state armed groups in the camp's vicinity. 

"The following day, soldiers entered the camp, according to accounts from former residents. On June 6, billowing smoke could be seen from the direction of the camp.

"It is urgent that more latrines are built, and that people have access to food and drinking water," said Rhian Gastineau, MSF's head of mission in CAR.

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