Nearly 60,000 have fled Central African Republic violence: U.N.

FILE PHOTO: A woman who fled the violent rebellion in Central African Republic (CAR) sits with her family as they wait for their identification process in the border town of Garoua Boulai, Cameroon January 7, 2021. REUTERS/Joel Kouam/File Photo

GENEVA (Reuters) - The number of people fleeing violence in the Central African Republic has doubled in just a week to nearly 60,000, the U.N. refugee agency said on Friday, as post-electoral violence intensifies.

CAR’s government has been battling rebel groups seeking to overturn a Dec. 27 vote in which President Faustin-Archange Touadera was declared victor despite fraud claims.

“What’s clear is the situation has...worsened,” UNHCR spokesman Boris Cheshirkov told a U.N. briefing in Geneva.

“What we are hearing from (refugees) is some of them have been separated from loved ones, some have had loved ones killed, that the attacks have intensified,” he added.

When rebels moved on the capital Bangui on 13 January, 10,000 people arrived in a single day in the Democratic Republic of Congo across the Ubangui River, UNHCR said. Others have arrived in Cameroon, Chad and the Republic of Congo.

Cheshirkov said access to many in the Democratic Republic of Congo was difficult and that the agency was seeking to mobilise more resources and arrange for the airlift of supplies.

“The situation is catastrophic. The government has to do something. There is a lack of food, water, and health care,” Izato Nzege, the governor of North Ubangi province in Congo, told reporters on Thursday.

The Norwegian Refugee Council also said on Friday that the unrest had caused disruptions to aid delivery, cutting off humanitarian aid to 2.8 million people in the former French colony.

Reporting by Emma Farge; Additional reporting by Hereward Holland and Stanis Bujakera; Editing by Stephanie Nebehay, Hereward Holland, William Maclean