Violence in Central African Republic drives thousands to Chad: UN
GENEVA, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- The UN refugee agency UNHCR on Tuesday said it was registering and helping thousands of new refugees arriving in Chad, mostly women and children fleeing a recent flare-up in violence in the northwest of the Central African Republic (CAR).
UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch told a press briefing here that more than 5,000 refugees were estimated to have arrived in southern Chad since late December, escaping clashes between two armed groups in the town of Paoua, which has an additional 20,000 people displaced internally.
Working with its government partners in Chad, UNHCR has registered some 2,350 new refugees in the village of Odoumian, located near the CAR border.
"Many of the refugees had trekked on foot to cross into the departments of Nya-Pende and Lam Mountains in Chad," Baloch said.
According to him, the influx was the largest movement of refugees from CAR, exceeding the total number for 2017, when about 2,000 had fled into Chad.
"Many were reporting widespread human rights abuses committed by the members of the armed groups in villages along the CAR-Chad border. The border with CAR was officially closed. UNHCR welcomed the humanitarian gesture of the Chadian authorities in allowing refugees seeking international protection inside its territory despite the closure," he said.
UN figures showed that Chad hosted over 75,000 refugees from CAR, out of the nearly 540,000 hosted in all neighboring countries.
According to UNHCR, the humanitarian situation inside CAR had significantly deteriorated during the second half of 2017.
Armed violence and attacks against humanitarians and peacekeepers had provoked a 50 percent increase in the number of internally displaced people, the UNHCR said, adding that this brought the total number from 400,000 in May to 600,000 at the end of 2017.[ Editor: meng ]