A Catholic bishop in the Central African Republic (CAR) has given refuge to 2,000 Muslims who fear attacks by Christian militias.
In an interview with the BBC, Juan José Aguirre Munoz said the refugees are afraid to leave the seminary’s compound in Bangassou, a city in the country’s south-east region.
He said: “This is because they risk death from anti-Balaka militias. They sought refuge in May this year after fighting erupted.
“Nearby, there are anti-Balaka militias who prevent them from going out to search for food, water or firewood. So they are completely confined inside the seminary. They would risk death if they venture out.”
CAR has been plagued by sectarian violence since 2013 when the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power. They were then accused of killing non-Muslim, mainly Christian civilians.
The anti-balaka groups were then formed but have also been accused of atrocities.
According to the UN, thousands of Muslims have been killed and at least a million people have been displaced in CAR since 2013.
The church was previously attacked by both anti-Balaka and Seleka militias, after it declared its determination to protect vulnerable people from both sides.
Last week, the UN’s humanitarian chief has warned of a new genocide against CAR’s Muslim population.