BANGUI, Central African Republic – Heavy fighting erupted Tuesday between armed groups in Central African Republic only hours after a peace deal was signed in Rome, aid officials said, while the United Nations warned that humanitarian aid was running out.
Thirteen of the 14 armed groups signed the agreement Monday that called for an immediate cease-fire. However, Doctors Without Borders said fighting resumed early Tuesday in the beleaguered town of Bria.
"At 9:30 a.m. we already received 35 wounded at the hospital, mostly gunshot wounds," said Mumuza Muhindo Musubaho, project coordinator in Bria for the international aid group also known by its French acronym MSF.
Gunfire also was reported Tuesday in the towns of Bangassou and Alindao, according to MSF, which said the security situation "remains extremely volatile."
The peace deal was brokered by the Sant'Egidio Catholic Community, though there was widespread skepticism in Central African Republic given similar failed efforts in the past.
Ten armed groups and the country's Defense Ministry signed a peace deal in 2015. Another accord, shepherded by the African Union, was signed in 2014. Neither lasted.
"The priority now is a cease-fire," said Vlad Monteiro, a spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping mission. "The armed groups should cease the hostilities and put an end to people's suffering."
Central African Republic has faced fighting since 2013, when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in Bangui. Anti-Balaka militias, mostly Christians, fought back, resulting in thousands of people killed and hundreds of thousands displaced.
As international donors gathered Tuesday in the capital, Bangui, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for the country said only 28 percent of the emergency humanitarian funding needed had been provided by donors.
Najat Rochdi said the U.N. hoped to accelerate the process of getting aid money disbursed. "Obviously, there are new displaced people and there are new needs," she said.
The international community already has pledged $2.2 billion in recovery aid for Central African Republic over the next five years.
President Faustin-Archange Touadera said he is counting on the support of the international community to help bring stability. Recent unrest has left 300 people dead and more than 100,000 internally displaced. Another 20,000 have fled to neighboring Congo.
The new violence "shows the fragility of the situation in the Central African Republic," Touadera said.