Central African Republic: Aid for 20,000 displaced people

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Bangui (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has just completed a distribution of basic necessities to nearly 20,000 people in villages between Bouzoum and Paoua and between Talley and Billacaré, in the Paoua sub-prefecture of north-western Central African Republic.

In September, the residents of these two areas fled clashes pitting the Armée populaire pour la restauration de la république et de la démocratie (APRD) against government forces or self-defence committees.

Fearing for their safety, thousands of people took refuge in the bush. Some of them are beginning to return to their villages, but living conditions there remain precarious owing to the remoteness of the area and the lack of basic infrastructure.

"In this area, the humanitarian situation remains difficult. By fleeing, these people lost all their possessions. We're going to help them to get started again. Our aid should enable them to lead a dignified life," said Sara Belleni Morante, an ICRC delegate specializing in economic security based in Paoua.

The distribution of tarpaulins, blankets, mosquito nets, buckets, soap, hoes, sleeping mats, clothing and household items was carried out with the help of volunteers from the Central African Red Cross Society. "This aid represents a source of hope," said Nguémandji Noé, the village chief in Djotaley. "It should enable the people receiving it to lead a normal life again during the dry season."

In addition to providing displaced people with essential items, the ICRC's sub-delegation in Padoua, opened in 2006, carries out activities raising awareness of the basic rules of international humanitarian law among people who bear weapons. The sub-delegation also visits people detained in connection with the conflict and provides support for local Red Cross chapters to boost their capacity to bring aid to those who need it most.

For further information, please contact:

Latif Mbake, ICRC Bangui, tel: +236 21 611 014 or +236 75 54 72 46

Marçal Izard, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 58 or +41 79 217 32 24