Actress Mia Farrow encountered burned villages and terrified refugees with no help in sight on her recent trip to the Central African Republic and Chad.
At a U.N. press conference Tuesday, she recalled impressions from visits earlier this month to villages and refugee camps along border regions where violence has spilled over from Darfur to its neighbors.
In one example, Farrow who serves as a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. children's agency, UNICEF, said her convoy stopped on a seemingly desolate road in northwestern Central African Republic after passing "burned village after burned village after burned village it was numbing and dispiriting."
Farrow said she heard that people were living along the roadside, even though the area appeared to be uninhabited, and that they might appear if the unarmed convoy paused.
After waiting silently for 15 minutes, people began to emerge "like specters, emaciated, with remnants of clothes or no clothes at all, terrified," she told a U.N. news conference.
From talking to them, Farrow said, she learned the people were too scared to return to their villages and rebuild _ but they were also afraid of who might find them in hiding.
At the sound of a vehicle approaching on the road, "you could hear the pounding of feet on the hard clay ground as 300 people vanished, vanished into the bush in sheer terror," she said.
"This is an extremely traumatized population and neglected," Farrow said, adding that some of the people have been living in the bush for more than a year.
She said that if an international peacekeeping force was not sent to protect civilians in the region, "you're going to see two collapsed states which will serve no one."
Farrow said she did not blame humanitarian agencies for not having a greater presence in the dangerous area.
"We're asking them to do the thing that the entire international community has turned away from ... but we are resolved to do more there, and we're going to follow through on that," she said, reports AP.
Eastern Chad is wracked by clashes between government forces and Sudan-based Chadian rebels and cross-border attacks on civilians by Sudan-based militia. There has also been fighting in northeastern Central African Republic but the government and rebel groups recently agreed to negotiate an end to their conflict.