United Nations: Nearly 20,000 people from the Central African Republic (CAR) have crossed into Cameroon so far this month to escape the ongoing violence in their homeland, the UN refugee agency said Friday.
The figure brings to 35,142 the total number of CAR refugees who have fled to Cameroon since March 2013, Xinhua quoted the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as saying.
The conflict in the CAR broke out when mainly Muslim Seleka rebels launched attacks in December 2012, and has taken on increasingly sectarian overtones as mainly Christian militias known as anti-Balaka have taken up arms.
The crisis has already claimed thousands of lives, uprooted almost one million people and left more than 2.5 million people in need of immediate humanitarian assistance.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other senior UN officials have called for increased international efforts to end the killing and alleviate the suffering of the people of the CAR.
On Thursday, Ban put forward a six-point initiative for addressing the most urgent priorities and needs, including more troops and police and funding for humanitarian assistance.
"We must step up our efforts," he told reporters after briefing the Security Council. "The international community is working hard to protect people from atrocities, restore stability and provide emergency relief, but it is simply not enough."
The UNHCR said the growing number of new arrivals in Cameroon and their need for food and other basic necessities have resulted in higher prices and shortage of goods on the local markets.
Before the current crisis, Cameroon was hosting 92,000 refugees from the CAR. The first started to arrive in 2006 to escape from rebel groups and bandits in the north of their country.
Updated Date: Feb 22, 2014 10:57:00 IST