At least Two thousand Muslims are reportedly taking refuge in the cathedral of Bangassou, guarded by UN peacekeepers.
The displaced people, Al Jazeera reports took refuge in the cathedral in the town of Bangassou after fleeing deadly violence in mid-May.
“The situation is not safe enough to leave, and so they cannot move from here,” said Father Alain Blaise Bissialo, the priest at the church.
“There are men who walk around town with guns.” The crisis in Bangassou began between May 13-17 when Anti-balaka, a vigilante militia made up of mostly Christians, launched a series of attacks on Muslims in Tokoyo, a largely Muslim district of Bangassou.
Thousands flocked to a nearby mosque to seek refuge. Yet, the mosque was subsequently attacked too, culminating in the killing of the local imam.
In an attempt to save civilians at the mosque, the Catholic bishop sent trucks to Tokoyo to transport as many civilians as possible back to the church for their safety.
“At last count, 150 people were killed during the violence since mid-May, but this number could rise,” Antoinne Mbao Bogo, president of the local branch of the Red Cross, told Al Jazeera on Friday.
Alidou Djibril, a displaced person at the church, said there was a shortage of food and clothes.
“It’s hard for us, we have to stay in the same place, we cannot move, and we are fasting,” he said.
Djibril said they only received food one week after arriving at the church, adding that the Anti-balaka were not allowing traders to bring food to them.
According to the United Nations, most of Bangassou’s 35,000 residents fled, some to sites for internally displaced people and others across into neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.