More than a quarter of the Central African Republic‘s population have left their homes because of conflict, new UN figures published on Tuesday showed.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the number of people who had been internally displaced within the CAR reached 669 997 in April, a rise of more than 70% over the year.
Added to this are people who have fled the violence in CAR to take up refuge in neighbouring countries – 570 000.
Together, the total comes to more than 1.23 million, out of a population of 4.5 million.
One of the world‘s poorest countries, the CAR plunged into a religious-tinged conflict in 2013 when a mainly-Muslim rebel alliance, the Seleka, overthrew the majority-Christian country‘s president, Francois Bozize.
France intervened to help remove the Seleka, and the following year the UN deployed a large military force on a peacekeeping and stabilisation mission.
However, the country remains violent and unstable. Most of its territory is in the hands of militia groups, many of them claiming to protect Muslims or Christians and fighting over resources.
In a separate development on Tuesday, the CAR justice ministry said legislators had approved a law setting up a special court to try people for conflict-related crimes dating back to 2003.
“The Central African National Assembly has just adopted the law on rules of procedure and evidence applicable for the Special Criminal Court,” Justice Minister Flavien Mbata said on Twitter.
The tribunal was created in 2015 but has been held up by administrative wrangling.
Last year a prosecutor was appointed to it, as were a dozen investigators and a panel of 25 national and international judges.
Tuesday‘s approval of the law gives legal approval to launching investigations.
A report published in May last year by the UN‘s Human Rights Commissioner documented 620 incidents entailing “serious violations” of international human rights laws between 2003 and 2015.
“The vast majority” of these incidents were perpetrated by the security forces or by the Seleka or anti-Seleka militias or their spinoffs, it said.
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