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UN High Commissioner for Refugees praises humanitarian aid workers in Central African republic.

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UN High Commissioner for Refugees praises humanitarian aid workers in Central African republic.

In a statement released in Bangui, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said that he was "deeply distressed" and concerned because "nearly half-a-million Central Africans have been newly displaced since December alone. In all, 2.5 millions are in desperate need." He added that "massive ethno-religious cleansing is continuing" and this was all the more tragic because of the country's centuries-old tradition of peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Christians.

"The Central African Republic is falling through the cracks of international attention. This cannot be allowed to happen. The country needs the same focus that is being put on Syria and South Sudan," said the High Commissioner, who specifically called for an increase in the number of foreign troops and police on the ground in the capital, Bangui, and other parts of the country.

"We are so scared to go back at night when we hear shooting and screaming. But at the same time, so tired of living in terrible conditions“, a community leader told the visitors.

Guterres then visited the vast settlement that sprang up in December at Bangui's Mpoko Airport, which now has an estimated population of about 100,000 and is home to some 900 displaced Muslims who are actively being persecuted by local armed groups. Conditions at the airport are very difficult, as people are cramped and seek shelter amongst the military relics of CAR’s now defunct airforce. At the airport, he took the time to tour several of the city’s displacements sites and speak with representatives from the displaced population.

At the airport, widow Zainaba said she had arrived there with her four children 10 days earlier after a terrible ordeal. "I lost everything; my home, my flesh, my identity. My kids sleep on the floor," she told Guterres. "We need your help, we need security. We live in constant fear of being killed." Many third party nationals, mostly Chadians, have been repatriated by their respective governments but Central African muslims and some others remain stranded with no options. Humanitarian actors are urgently seeking solutions for where these people can go to live in peace. 

The High Commissioner also met humanitarian staff and praised humanitarian aid workers for all they have done in Central African Republic under extreme circumstances. "We are all however facing dramatic underfunding. Our resources are overwhelmed and ability to do more hampered," he added, in another clear call to the donor community to step up assistance.