- At least 37 people were killed and about 1,400 driven out of their homes by a gang of armed criminals who attacked villages today in Kamba Kota, in northern province of Ouham in Central African Republic (CAR).
According to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) reports, displaced villagers are now living in terrible health and security conditions in bushes, where they have sought sanctuary.
The assailants are men in groups of between 10 and 30, locally known as "Coupeurs de route" or "Zaraguinas." They have reportedly been causing havoc to the region since beginning of the year. They are said to kill villagers and travellers, abduct children and grown-ups, loot as well as torch houses.
Joint operations of UN refuge agency (UNHCR) and UN office in CAR have voiced a deep concern over health, safety and security of the desperate victims.
The victims who live in makeshift shelters and huts made of branches and foliage are reported to be depending on unclean river water and cassava leaves for food. Access to health centres and schools for children in affected regions is a major problem, reports have said.
But with assistance of aid agencies like Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), both prerequisites will soon be taken care of, as soon as construction of the school in the area is completed, said UN reports.
The displaced are from Kambandja, Kassai and Kagouè II villages on the road to Ouogo to north of Kamba Kota. In spite of the hazardous circumstances, victims have plans for a normal future, with hope of their children resuming education soon.
NRC arrived in CAR in July 2007 and is now implementing an emergency education projects in Ouham. The organisation is operating in 40 schools giving much needed education to some 12.300 children.
Project activities include provision of school kits and furniture, training of 179 maitres parents, as well as training of members of the Associations des Parents d'Elève in school management.
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), United Nations Fund for Children (UNICEF) and Emergency Response Fund (ERF) support the projects financially.
As needs for primary education are enormous both in Ouham and Ouham-Pendé, NRC is planning for an expansion of its education program in 2009, subject to funding.
The peace accord signed between the CAR government and Popular Army for the Restoration of Democracy (APRD) significantly reduced political tension in the region. But, general security situation has indicated limited signs of getting better.
UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that 1 million people in northern CAR have been affected by either civil conflict or banditry, with nearly 200,000 internally displaced and another 108,000 fleeing as refugees to neighbouring states of Cameroon, Chad and Sudan.
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