Inter-communal violence in the Central African Republic's capital city of Bangui is increasing again, the UN Refugee agency reported Tuesday.
At a press briefing in Geneva, UN High Commissioner for Refugees spokesperson Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba said, "The renewed inter-communal violence has triggered further displacement within the country and across its borders. Since the attacks in the capital early last week, the number of internally displaced people in CAR has risen to 637,000, including 207,000 in Bangui alone. This represents an increase of nearly 16,000 uprooted people."
In late March, anti-Balaka (Christian militia) attacks on Muslim populations and African Union peacekeepers "have stepped up." In Bagui during the past week, Muslim youth attacked Christian mourners at a funeral, killing 20 people.
Lejeune-Kaba acknowledged, "We fear for the lives of 19,000 Muslims" in and around the capital city, as anti-Balaka forces "operate with impunity" and control the major routes to and from Bangui.
In order to protect these communities, UNHCR plans to send additional staff "to establish a humanitarian presence and ensure the delivery of assistance to those at risk," while exploring the possible relocation of some at-risk communities.
On March 20, UNHCR Commissioner Navi Pillay voiced her frustration about the international community's "slow response" to the ongoing crisis in CAR, as well as the need for necessary resources and funding to re-establish security and provide "vital humanitarian aid."
CAR has been rocked by violence since the Muslim-backed Séléka group took control of Bangui in March 2013 and removed Christian President François Bozizé. Renewed violence broke out in the capital city of Bangui in December 2013.