Thousands of foreign nationals stranded in the Central African Republic (CAR) are due to be evacuated today, following appeals by neighbouring African countries.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has said it will begin airlifting 800 Chadians from a camp in Bangui.
The IOM said the first 800 to be airlifted are part of a group of some 2,500 Chadians sheltering in a transit camp adjacent to Bangui airport, who are "living in terrible conditions at the over-crowded and insanitary site."
Central African Republic's interim leaders caved in to international pressure and resigned on Friday after failing to halt inter-religious violence, prompting street celebrations but also questions over who would step in to take charge.
President Michel Djotodia and Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye's resignations came at a two-day summit of the Economic Community of Central African States (CEEAC) in neighboring Chad. The killing of more than 1,000 since fighting between Christian and Muslim militias intensified in December and the deteriorating security situation led the UN to warn of an impending humanitarian disaster.
The conflict has displaced 935,000 people, including some 513,000 – about half of the population – in Bangui alone, according to the IOM, who have received requests for assistance from Chad, Niger, Mali, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to evacuate thousands of their stranded nationals.
In a statement on its website the organisation said: "The first three IOM charter flights this weekend will repatriate some 800 Chadians from the war torn CAR capital of Bangui to the Chadian capital N’Djamena.
IOM West Africa Director Carmela Godeau said: “Several concerned governments including Mali, Senegal, Niger and Chad have already organized evacuation flights, but need additional resources to cope with all the migrants wanting to leave the CAR and those arriving home, who are often destitute. IOM is helping in a variety of ways, including providing onward transport for returnees.”
She said over 60,000 migrants from neighbouring countries have already asked for assistance from their embassies in the CAR. Nearly 27,000 have already been evacuated by their governments, leaving at least 33,000 in urgent need of help.
Nearly 27,000 have already been evacuated by their governments, leaving at least 33,000 in urgent need of help.