Amnesty International says thousands fleeing violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) are now facing another humanitarian crisis in neighboring Chad.
The organization said in a report on Wednesday that many refugees, including a large number of children, are “suffering from severe malnutrition and with no shelter other than the shade of trees.”
“The rainy season is due to start shortly and unless shelter, food and medical facilities are urgently made available, their already desperate situation will quickly deteriorate,” it said.
Christian Mukosa, Amnesty International’s Central Africa researcher, described the situation of refugees as “quite dire.”
“We saw people who had been living in the open for weeks waiting for promised assistance. The rainy season is about to start, rendering many areas inaccessible, and bringing the added threat of waterborne diseases,” said Mukosa, who added, “It is unacceptable for thousands of men, women and children who were forced to leave CAR fearing for their lives, to die here in Chad for lack of even the most basic assistance.”
“It is important that the Chadian government and the international community including the UN agencies urgently assist these people and ensure that they have security, access to food, medical services, and adequate shelter,” Mukosa stated.
The UN says nearly 300,000 people have fled the violence in the CAR to Chad, Cameroon and Ethiopia.
The Central African Republic has been facing deadly unrest since December 2013, when Christian armed groups launched coordinated attacks against the mostly Muslim Seleka group that toppled the government in March 2013.
Last month, violence in the African country reportedly claimed over 1,000 lives.
Some 2,000 French troops, supported by a 6,000-strong African Union force known as MISCA, are currently deployed to the Central African Republic. The foreign forces have so far failed to curb the violence.
On February 25, French lawmakers approved the extension of France’s military intervention in the Central African Republic beyond April.