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CAR refugees need urgent help, U.N. envoy says

  |   Jan. 8, 2014 at 1:25 PM
GENEVA, Switzerland, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- The international community needs to do more to ensure civilians are protected from the violence in the Central African Republic, a U.N. envoy said Wednesday.

Chaloka Beyani, a U.N. special envoy on the rights of the internally displaced, said he was concerned by the plight of the estimated 1 million people forced to flee their homes because of violence in CAR, one of the poorest countries in the world.

"The international community's response to protect and assist those fleeing the violence, especially women, children, and those with disabilities needs to be strengthened," he said in a statement.

The Seleka rebel coalition, a predominately Muslim group, toppled the CAR government in March. A Christian militia calling itself anti-Balaka has taken up arms against its Muslim counterparts, giving the CAR conflict a religious tone.

Beyani said the escalating violence has led to a dramatic increase in the number of CAR civilians fleeing the violence.

"Humanitarian agencies urgently need extra resources to provide for the basic needs of those displaced from their homes," he said.

The United States is among Western powers working toward a peaceful solution to the CAR conflict. Rashad Hussain, U.S. special envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, met with U.S. and CAR religious leaders in Washington to address the issue.

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