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Foreign Workers, Mostly Chinese, Flee Post-Election Violence in C.A.R.

According to Cameroon authorities, more than 250 foreign workers in the C.A.R. had crossed over to Cameroon in the past week.

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Authorities in Cameroon say over 250 foreign workers, most of them Chinese, have fled post-election violence in the Central African Republic (C.A.R.) to the border town of Garoua Boulay.  The foreign workers say they are the target of rebel groups disgruntled with the C.A.R.’s December 27 presidential election that saw Faustin-Archange Touadera reelected.

Li Yu, 43, calls himself a spokesman for Chinese workers who fled post-election violence in the CAR to Cameroon, said 152 Chinese merchants, construction engineers, and those working on mining sites escaped to Cameroon in the past week.   

According to Li, armed rebel groups began threatening Chinese mining workers after the C.A.R’s  December 27 elections. He says the situation worsened during the first week of January when groups of heavily armed men started searching their homes, looting and asking all Chinese citizens to either leave or be killed.  Li says he is happy about the hospitality they have received in Cameroon.

He says more than 60 of the Chinese were working on mining sites in the C.A.R. and some of them had to make the journey through the bushes for days, before arriving in Cameroon.   

He says the Central African Republic’s military had to assist some Chinese and other foreign workers to the border.

According to Cameroon authorities, more than 250 foreign workers in the C.A.R. had crossed over to Cameroon in the past week.

Cameroon Territorial Administration Minister Paul Atanga Nji payed a visit to the fleeing workers Sunday in Garoua Boulay.

Nji says the country’s President Paul Biya dispatched him to the border to ensure their safety and to provide aid.

He says the president asked him to ensure that all foreign workers escaping the violent clashes in the C.A.R. are safe in Cameroon, particularly the Chinese.  Nji says the mattresses, food, and first aid products they are handing out are from President Biya to help the fleeing workers in Garoua Boulay.  

He says Cameroon’s military will assist to transport Chinese citizens who wish to go to their embassy in Yaoundé, the Cameroonian capital.

Nji says since December, 4,500 civilians have fled election-related violence in the C.A.R. to Garoua Boulay.

He says because of the violence in the Central African Republic, close to 2,000 trucks have also been blocked at Garoua Boulay trying to get from Cameroon’s coastal city of Douala to Bangui, the capital of C.A.R.

On Sunday, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic, MINUSCA, said violence was rising to an alarming extent.   

According to MINUSCA, 4,000 civilians in the C.A.R. towns of Bouar and Grimari fled heavy fighting between rebels and troops to safety in Bouar’s Roman Catholic Church. 

Due to the violence between armed groups since 2013, nearly 700,000 people have been displaced inside the Central African Republic and over 600,000 forced to flee — most to neighbouring Cameroon, Chad, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  

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Central Africa News

Central African Republic Declares State of Emergency

Albert Yaloke Mokpeme, the spokesperson for the presidency, made the announcement on national radio.

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The Central African Republic has declared a 15-day state of emergency all over the country, as violent attacks continue, following attempts of a coalition of armed groups seeking to overthrow the newly re-elected President Faustin-Archange Touadera.

Albert Yaloke Mokpeme, spokesperson for the presidency, made this announcement, Thursday, on national radio.

He disclosed that the state of emergency will last until Feb. 4.

The rebels staged an attack last week just outside the nation’s capital, Bangui, but were repelled by UN peacekeeping forces. Recently, the U.N. mission has asked the UN Security Council for more troops and more equipment.

The rebels have been carrying out sporadic attacks in towns far from the capital Bangui and on the RN3 highway, which is the crucial supply line that links the capital with neighbouring Cameroon.

The coalition of armed groups is calling for the resignation of President Faustin-Archange Touadéra who was re-elected in a contentious election on December 27.

Militias who claim to represent ethnic or other groups control two-thirds of the country’s territory and this has been raising questions about government’s control of the vast, mineral-rich central African nation.

Just last week a call was made by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), for the immediate end to all armed violence and clashes in the Central African Republic. Reports from the agency state that about 60,000 people have been forced to flee their home since December, most of whom have fled to neighbouring Cameroon.

Meanwhile health workers in the land-locked central African country, have complained that the continued violence has made it more challenging to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The health workers say they are unable to penetrate places where fightings have escalated.

So far, the country has recorded a total of 4,963 positive COVID-19 cases, out of which 1,924 has since recovered. 63 people have died of COVID-19 related issues so far.

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UN Seeks More Peacekeepers for Central African Republic

The situation in the landlocked Central African country has been tense since after Bozize’s candidacy for the Dec. 27, 2020 elections was turned down.

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The United Nations peace mission in the Central African Republic has sought more equipment and peacekeepers amid the violence that has been escalating in the country since last month. 

While speaking to the UN Security Council at a virtual meeting late Thursday, Mankeur Ndiaye, head of the UN peacekeeping mission in the country (MINUSCA) said “We need an increase in our capacity in order to respond to this new threat which is destabilizing the country even further.”

“If our requests are not heard, the response of the mission, and most particularly that of the forces, is going to be to do whatever it can. But troops are currently deployed over extremely large areas and as a result, the force only has limited response ability, and we cannot cover the entire territory because of the size of the country,” Ndiaye added.

He noted that assaults and ambushes have continued, and that some UN peacekeepers have also fallen victim, seven of whom have been killed in recent weeks.

Most of the attacks witnessed in the country are blamed on the so-called Coalition of Patriots for Change armed group, which is backed by former President Francois Bozize.

The situation in the landlocked Central African country has been tense since after Bozize’s candidacy for the Dec. 27, 2020 elections was turned down.

Former President Francois Bozize who is a retired general, seized power in a 2003 coup but was overthrown in a 2013 rebellion. Several militia groups, some close to Bozize, have since attacked armed forces, civilians, and UN peacekeeping forces.

The incumbent president Faustin-Archange Touadera, who won a second term in last month’s polls, has reiterated his commitment to peace in the country.

Last week, The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) called for an immediate end to all armed violence in the Central African Republic, stating that some 60,000 people have been forced to flee the country since December. ​​​​​​​

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COVID-19: Egypt’s Health Ministry Records 890 New Cases, 56 Deaths

The total number of COVID-19 cases reported in Egypt has now risen to 156,397, recovered cases are at 122,993, and 8,583 deaths.

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The Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population confirmed on Sunday, 890 new coronavirus cases, up from 887 on Saturday and 879 on Friday.

The ministry also confirmed that 56 more people had died of virus-related issues while 701people had recovered so far.

The total number of COVID-19 cases reported in Egypt has now risen to 156,397, recovered cases are at 122,993, and 8,583 deaths.

The North African country has officially entered the second wave of the pandemic, after a steady rise of reported cases in November and December.

Government officials have continuously urged the public to adhere to COVID-19 precautionary measures, and authorities have been instructed to strictly enforce the country’s mask mandate, which applies to public transportation and all indoor public spaces and.

Anyone who violates the mask wearing policies in these places, is subject to an instant LE50 fine, and restaurants and cafes breaking capacity rules are subject to an instant LE4,000 fine.

In late December, The Ministry of Education decided to again shift classroom learning back online and postpone exams ahead of the mid-year vacation that starts on January 16 and goes until February 20.

Students first-term exams will be taken once they return from vacation.

According to the country’s Health Minister Hala Zayed, Egypt has received doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine, and is expecting more shipments.

The country will receive 20 percent of its vaccines needs via the AstraZeneca vaccine from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance by the end of January, the minister said.

The Egyptian Ministry of Health is also expecting a shipment of Russia’s Sputnik-V vaccine. The ministry signed for 25 million doses of the vaccine in September last year, and will begin clinical trials of the vaccine as soon as it arrives.

Egypt plans to roll out its vaccination campaign in early February, beginning with the elderly, healthcare workers, and those with underlying health conditions.

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