GENEVA (AFP) – Aid workers who carried out an emergency mission to the north of strife-torn Central African Republic found villages abandoned and burned, and evidence of widespread rights abuses, the UN refugee agency said Friday.
“The UNHCR team confirmed widespread lawlessness in the region. Local people spoke of physical assaults, extortion, looting, arbitrary arrest and torture by armed men,” said Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
The team travelled to a region some 500 kilometres (310 miles) north of the capital Bangui last week.
“We are, in general, increasingly worried about the civilians caught in the middle of the fighting and who are at the mercy of anyone with a gun,” she said, adding it remained unclear who was fighting.