Cameroon begins airlifting people trying to leave Central African Republic

Cameroon has begun airlifting people trying to flee the war-torn Central African Republic, an official said Saturday in the Cameroonian port city of Douala.

Joseph Beti Assomo, the governor of Cameroon’s Littoral Region of which Douala is the capital, said national carriers were « freely transporting Cameroonian and other people willing to leave [CAR capital] Bangui. »

The first flight arrived in Douala on Saturday with 300 people – around « 250 Cameroonians and 50 persons of other African countries, » said Beti Assomo.

Some 2,000 people will be airlifted by next week, the governor said, by national carrier Camair-Co. The planes were also carrying supplies such as water, food and medicine.

CAR shares borders with six countries: Chad, Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of the Congo and Cameroon.

Cameroon in November placed its border posts with CAR on high alert, after Muslim Seleka rebels crossed into the country and attacked a village.

France has sent 1,600 troops to CAR, where according to the Red Cross 500 people were killed this week in sectarian violence.

CAR has been plunged into a humanitarian crisis since the Seleka coalition rose up against the government in December and overthrew president Francois Bozize, a Christian, in March.

Interim president Michel Djotodia has been struggling to restore law and order since then, despite the support of more than 3,500 African Union peacekeepers.

About 400,000 of CAR’s 4.5 million people have been displaced and scores of civilians have been killed, especially in the country’s north-west.

Voice of Russia, dpa (Anne Mireille Nzouankeu-December 14, 2013)

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