Libreville, Gabon | AFP | Simmering unrest and clashes in the chronically unstable Central African Republic has led a “record number” of 1.1 million people — about a fourth of the population — to flee their homes, the UN said Friday.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees spokesman Andrej Mahecic said the actual numbers could be far higher.
“The number of refugees may be much more because thousands of people find themselves in remote and often inaccessible areas,” it said in a statement, saying that about 167,000 people had fled to neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.
There were 513,676 refugees in neighbouring countries and about 600,000 internally displaced people in a country with a population of 4.5 million, it said.
Between January and September about 200,000 people were forced to flee their homes because of the resurgence of violence, it said.
The Central African Republic, a former French colony, was pitched into a war between Muslim and Christian militias in 2013 after president Francois Bozize, a Christian, was overthrown by a coalition of Muslim-majority rebel groups called the Seleka, who in turn were driven from power.
Renewed violence among different armed groups has erupted as they fight to establish zones of influence and gain control of natural resources, which include diamonds, timber and gold.