CAR

UN condemns abduction of health workers in Central African Republic

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The United Nations today strongly condemned the capture of two international health workers in the increasingly unstable northwestern region of the Central African Republic (CAR), urging their immediate release.

The two health workers were taken on Saturday 19 May as they were working on a project of the Italian non-governmental organization (NGO) Cooperazione Internazionale (COOPI), which aims to improve local access to health facilities.

Nearly 300,000 people have had to flee their homes in the CAR over the past year because of fighting, banditry and rebel attacks. UN officials have warned that the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region is threatening to engulf the CAR as well as Chad.

"The UN is highly concerned by the recent decline in the security situation in the northwest, which is threatening humanitarian work," UN spokesperson Michele Montas said today in New York.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) confirmed that the humanitarian crisis in the northeast and centre of the country has worsened, with the number of internally displaced persons on the rise.

At the same time, the humanitarian response is growing with 18 NGOs now operating in the region, as opposed to just six back in November 2006.