Bangui – Nearly 5 000 people displaced by the Central African Republic’s long-running civil conflict are without shelter or have lost key belongings after a fire swept through their camp, the UN said on Wednesday.
A total of “4 803 people are in urgent need of shelter, household necessities, food and water,” Anita Cadonau, a communications officer with the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told AFP.
The accidental blaze happened on Tuesday at a camp in Alindao, about 500km (300 miles) east of the capital Bangui.
Twenty people were injured, Cadonau said.
“The fire broke out after a child tried to cook with palm oil,” said Philomene Dounda, the prefect of the Lower Kotto region where the camp is located.
One of the world’s poorest countries, the CAR plunged into civil war in 2013 after the country’s then president, Francois Bozi, was ousted by a rebel-led coalition largely drawn from the Muslim minority.
The coup triggered a sectarian bloodbath between the Seleka and “anti-Balaka” forces, who were mainly Christian or animist.
French and then UN intervention helped to stabilise the country, enabling it to stage elections, but much of the nation remains in the hands of armed groups.
At the start of the year, according to OCHA figures, the CAR had 670 000 internally displaced people, and another 741 000 who lived in neighbouring countries and had refugee status.
Around 3.1 million citizens – 63% of the population – will need humanitarian aid and protection this year, OCHA says.
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