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Rebels say will allow C. Africa aid convoys

Central African Republic.  By S. Ramis/J.Jacobsen, jj/ (AFP)
LISTEN FEB 10, 2021
Central African Republic. By S. Ramis/J.Jacobsen, jj/ (AFP)

Rebels in the Central African Republic said Wednesday they would temporarily allow the passage of aid convoys to the country's capital as an offensive by pro-government forces pushed them out of several towns.

The announcement by the rebels who had previously controlled some two-thirds of the impoverished country came after the Central African Republic's military along with its Rwandan and Russian allies retook a series of towns in recent days.

"Contacts and negotiations have taken place with humanitarian providers to exceptionally open a humanitarian corridor for NGOs," the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) rebel alliance said in a statement.

It said would temporarily allow aid deliveries along a key supply route leading from the Cameroonian border to the capital Bangui, but warned against "any deviation from the arrangements that have been the subject of negotiations."

Since launching an offensive in December, the rebels have sought to cut off the capital, the UN says.

But since late January, the country's military along with Rwandan soldiers and Russian paramilitaries deployed to help shore up President Faustin Archange Touadera's government have engaged in a counter-offensive to free the route to the border and allow for aid deliveries.

Six towns have since been retaken -- Boda, Boali, Bossembele, Bossemptele, Yaloke and Bouar.

On Monday, an aid convoy was able to reach Bangui under escort by UN peacekeepers after a 50-day blockade by the rebels.

The UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says some 57 percent of the country's population of around 4.9 million will require assistance and protection this year.

The country is among the world's least-developed and thousands of people have died since a civil war erupted in 2013.