UN concerned over deteriorating situation in CAR

Geneva, April 2: Two UN organisations Tuesday expressed deep concern on the escalation of violence in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR).

Stepped-up attacks in various neighbourhoods of the capital have caused at least 60 deaths since March 22, Xinhua quoted Cecile Pouilly, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) as telling in a press meet.

A series of clashes between mainly Christian militias known as anti-Balaka and Muslims in Bangui over the past week caused nearly 40 people killed, Pouilly said.

Besides, there were reports of increased tensions and clashes between anti-Balaka fighters and African Union peacekeeping forces (MISCA), with anti-Balaka reportedly directly targeting MISCA military and civilian personnel on several occasions, as Pouilly presented.

She noted that last Saturday 24 people were allegedly killed and some 100 people injured, including at least one child, by Chadian soldiers in the suburb of Bangui, and her organisation was trying to clarify the exact circumstances of this incident and to confirm the exact affiliation of these soldiers.

Amid the deteriorating situation on the ground, Pouilly urged the international community to support UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s urgent appeal for thousands more peacekeepers and police to this strife-ridden country to protect civilians.

Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba, spokeswoman with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told reporters that the renewed inter-communal violence has triggered further displacement within the country and across its borders.

Lejeune-Kaba said that the attacks in the capital since early last week led to an increase of nearly 16,000 internally displaced people in the CAR, bring the total to 637,000, including 207,000 in Bangui alone.

Statistics from UNHCR showed that the conflict, having burst out since December last year between mainly Muslim Seleka rebels and anti-Balaka militia — mainly Christians, claimed more than 2,000 lives, and drove more than 290,000 to fled to neighbouring countries.