CAR

Central African Republic: Humanitarian coordination unit sets up body to help IDPs in Bangui

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BANGUI, 3 February (IRIN) - The UN-NGO humanitarian coordination body in the Central African Republic (CAR) has set up a commission to identify all internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have fled war-ravaged parts of the country to Bangui, the capital, according to a local UN official.
"The commission will study this phenomenon and propose strategies for humanitarian intervention," Stan Nkwain, the UN Development Programme resident representative, said on Friday.

During the weekly coordination meeting of the UN-NGO humanitarian body, he said the commission would comprise representatives of the International Committee of Red Cross, the CAR Red Cross Society, Cooperazione Internationale, Caritas and the UN World Food Programme (WFP). The commission was set up on Friday following reports that civilians fleeing rebel-held areas to Bangui were not receiving relief aid.

Government forces are still pursuing the rebel supporters of former army chief of staff, Francois Bozize, who invaded Bangui on 25 October 2002. The WFP programme officer, Albert Bango-Makoudou, told IRIN on Saturday that his agency had on 17 December 2002 completed its emergency food aid distribution to victims of the failed invasion. However, the CAR Red Cross has continued to register new IDPs who want to be assisted, after many days in the bush.

"On Thursday we registered 19 people from Bossangoa [305 km northwest of Bangui] and among them there were a baby aged five months and four children aged between five years and 15 years," Patrice Yazenga, the CAR Red Cross secretary-general, told IRIN on 1 February.

Between 35 and 50 IDPs were reaching Bangui every day, he added, but many of them failed to register because they did not believe they would get help. He said children and the elderly had started displaying signs of malnutrition. "These people ask for food, blankets, cooking pots, clothes, shoes and other household stuffs," he said. Some IDPs were being helped by their relatives and others by religious communities, he added.

A Red Cross census carried out in December 2002 in two of Bangui's eight suburbs showed there were about 2,300 IDPs.

People in the centre and north of the country have been fleeing into the bush, making for Bangui, or southern Chad, in fear of Bozize's armed followers and possible government army counterattacks. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Bangui reported in January that about 10,000 people, including at least 1,300 CAR nationals, had fled to southern Chad.

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