UN raises alarm over unprecedented humanitarian crisis in CAR

UN has raised alarm over the “unprecedented humanitarian crisis” in Central African Republic (CAR) where defense forces, soldiers from nearby countries and other security personnel have been fighting an “asymmetric war” against armed groups.

Mankeur Ndiaye, CAR Special Representative and Head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission (MINUSCA) told the Security Council on Wednesday that the situation was a source of concern.

The top UN official raised concern over a military counter-offensive against the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC).

“CPC is an alliance of armed groups that launched attacks against forces loyal to the Government ahead of the presidential vote in December, which returned incumbent Faustin-Archange Touadéra to power on 4 January.

“The result has been an unprecedented humanitarian crisis with new waves of displacement and 57 per cent of the population in need of humanitarian assistance,” he said.

The Special Representative underscored that recent widespread rights abuses committed by State forces embolden armed groups, exacerbate fears of radicalisation and compromise any chance of establishing trust between citizens and their leaders.

“This is a new trend that, if not careful, will ruin the meagre progress that has been hard won in the quest for social cohesion and national reconciliation.”

He warned that bilateral forces would be useful only if they contributed to protecting civilians from armed groups and creating an environment conducive to a lasting political solution.

Ndiaye also reported that conflict-related sexual violence in the first quarter of this year is five times higher than that of the last quarter of 2020.

Noting the development of a special investigative commission on abuses committed by CAR State forces and their partners, he said that MINUSCA intends to continue documenting rights violations to be reported publicly.

In addition, he said MINUSCA would document the violations and report it publicly to “preserve a framework for frank, transparent and constructive dialogue” with the authorities.

“The looting and militarisation of civilian infrastructure, such as schools and hospitals, hinder already inadequate access to basic services, and undermine the protection of civilians and humanitarian assistance, and peace and stability efforts,’’ the MINUSCA chief said.

He also drew the Council’s attention to the frequency of explosive devices being deployed, which have restricted peacekeepers’ movement, hindered economic activities and reduce the mobility of MINUSCA and humanitarian actors.

“We have shared our concerns with the relevant national authorities and have encouraged the ratification of the relevant international conventions to have a mechanism for preventing and combating this scourge.”

Pointing to the presence of international forces along with MINUSCA as diminishing the mission’s effectiveness, Ndiaye said that with the Council’s support, he would take “immediate measures” to create the optimal conditions to improve efficiency and enhance the performance of  UN ‘blue helmets’.

He told Ambassadors that MINUSCA had received assurances that the President had instructed CAR military leaders to explore new ways of working with the mission.

Meanwhile, citing incidents against peacekeepers on  May 30 and June 19,, the MINUSCA chief underscored that the safety of UN troops and personnel remains “an imperative”.

He also noted that hate speech and incitement to violence against MINUSCA and CAR partners had become “increasingly strident the past few months”.

“Today more than ever, we need the Council’s support”, he said, stressing that multifaceted threats endanger MINUSCA’s mandate and put peacekeepers and UN personnel at greater risk.

Ndiaye thanked the Security Council, Angola, the African Union (AU) and other international partners for their support and appealed for financial assistance to fill an estimated nine million dollars gap for local elections, early in 2022.

Noting that those elections should contribute significantly to decentralised governance, local development and the participation of many more citizens in political life, he said that President Touadéra and others in the political process have committed to complete the electoral cycle.

“We must seize this new opportunity to harmonise regional initiatives and encourage the new Government to mobilise the support of all international partners for the success of the inclusive political dialogue,” he said.

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