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UN Warns of Grave Human Rights Violations in CAR

Oct 1, 2013 2:49 PM   By Jeff Miller
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RAPAPORT... The United Nations (UN) expressed deep concern at deteriorating security and atrocious crimes in the diamond-rich Central African Republic (CAR).  While the country has experienced decades of instability, violence flared up in December when the Séléka rebel coalition launched a series of attacks against the government. A peace agreement was signed in January, but rebels again seized the capital, Bangui, in March, forcing President François Bozizé to flee.

CAR is now under a transitional government headed by Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye, but armed clashes in the northeastern area of the nation have increased since the beginning of August and the country is facing a dire humanitarian situation that affects the entire population of some 4.6 million, according to the UN.

There are continued reports of gross human rights violations since the Séléka coalition seized power in March 2013, including the deliberate killing of civilians, acts of sexual violence against women and children and the destruction and looting of property, including hospitals, schools and churches.

“While the international community has yet to engage in a concerted way to prevent atrocities in the Central African Republic, there is still time to take steps to halt the escalation of this crisis and the suffering of the population,” said Adama Dieng and Jennifer Welsh in a joint statement on behalf of the UN Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide.

“The breakdown of law and order and the apparent inability of the transitional authorities to exercise control over Séléka soldiers committing atrocities, could presage a deepening crisis and a return to large scale fighting. This, compounded with other risk factors, including religious tensions, has opened the door to the risk of atrocity crimes,” according to the statement.

On September 25, the UN's Human Rights Council appointed an independent expert to monitor the human rights situation in CAR and called for establishing an independent, impartial body to investigate all allegations of serious human rights violations.

The UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) sent a mission to northwestern CAR this past week and found that 170,000 people had been newly displaced by recent fighting between former Séléka rebels and various armed groups.

Amy Martin, the head of OCHA in CAR, said, “Civilians are caught in the middle of the fighting and are at the mercy of anyone with a gun.”

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is providing emergency assistance to  5,000 families displaced in northwestern CAR and the majority of those in need are women and children without access to water or shelter. UNICEF estimated that lawlessness has contributed to a major measles outbreak; nationwide violence has led to at least 250,000 children having missed school this year; forced marriages and sexual violence against young girls is becoming rampant and the group estimated that 3,500 children are now associated with armed rebel groups, up from 2,000 in December.

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Tags: car, Central African Republic, human rights violations, humanitarian, Jeff Miller, unicef, United Nations
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