(Photo: Reuters/Siegfried Modola)
Clashes between Christian and Muslim groups in a town in the Central African Republican have left 75 people dead this past week, according to reports from the African country. Pastors say that thousands of people hiding in churches are in desperate need of help.
Father Cassien Kamatari revealed that most of the dead in the town of Boda were Christians, though it is not known how many total Muslims were killed, as their bodies were buried quickly, BBC News reported.
CAR has been locked in sectarian battles ever since the resignation of interim President Michel Djotodia earlier this year. The transitional government had hopes of restoring peace and preparing for democratic elections, but those efforts were hampered due to fighting between Seleka rebels and anti-Balaka fighters.
Persecution watchdog group Open Doors, which ranks CAR No. 16 on its 2014 World Watch List of countries where Christians face the most persecution, sent The Christian Post a breaking news report on Tuesday by one of its field directors for west and central Africa, who said that thousands of people fleeing the sectarian violence are hiding in churches and mosques.
"We would need the help of other organizations and an escort to visit those sites. So until we can have that organized, we decided to stick to the areas more easily accessible which include some of the refugee camps scattered across the city. First, we visited the displaced at two church compounds. As we entered the first camp, I was moved with compassion when I saw the difficult circumstances people are enduring," the Open Doors field director said.
He added that a pastor told him that close to 4,000 people have been packed inside his church, and that number is growing every day.
"Although the ex-rebels know their time is up, they still cause trouble in various places. New families keep arriving in the camps, indicating that security remains a problem in many areas in town. For camp staff, major challenges include the provision of water, sanitation and food. The UNHCR has provided some large shelters and the Red Cross has dug some pit latrines and set up improvised washing areas."
The field director stressed that disease is another worrying factor at the camps, and the problem must be addressed or things may get worse.
"Their biggest worry is the approaching rainy season when mosquitoes will abound and the whole compound will become a mud pool. Apart from the huge discomfort, this means an increased risk of malaria and waterborne disease," he pointed out.
A previous report by Open Doors on the situation in CAR in January revealed that conditions in the African country were "shocking," and that people have been forced to live "like animals" due to the widespread violence.
BBC noted that France has over 1,600 soldiers in CAR who are working with another 4,000 troops in the region striving to end the deadly violence in the troubled country, where about a million people, or 20 percent of the entire population, have been forced to flee their homes.