UN chief arrives for visit in strife-torn CAR

2017-10-25 08:37
Antonio Guterres (AFP).

Antonio Guterres (AFP).

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Bangui - UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres arrived in the Central African Republic on Tuesday to assess the country's fragile security situation as violence between militias threatens to intensify.

Crowds of people braving heavy rain lined the road from Bangui airport to the capital to greet him.

In his four-day stay, the UN chief will hold talks with political leaders in Bangui and visit the southeastern town of Bangassou, in one of the worst-hit regions for violence.

He is also expected to meet victims of sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers - part of an effort to address damaging allegations that have hit the blue helmets in several missions.

In the run-up to Guterres's visit, Christian and Muslim leaders urged the United Nations to overhaul its peacekeeping strategy, which some have criticised as being too passive.

"A revision of strategy" has to go hand-in-hand with a mandate for UN troop renewal, Protestant leader Nicolas Guerekoyamene-Gbangou told AFP during a joint interview on Saturday with the country's Muslim and Catholic leaders.

The UN has a force of some 12 500 troops and police on the ground in CAR to help protect civilians and support the government of Faustin-Archange Touadera, who was elected last year.

Known as MINUSCA, its mandate - which expires on November 15 - is due to be renewed, and Guterres is looking for reinforcements.

 Humanitarian law 'not respected' 

CAR, one of the world's poorest nations, has been struggling to recover from a three-year conflict between nominally Muslim and Christian militias that started after the 2013 overthrow of Francois Bozize.

Between 2013 and 2016, acting under a UN mandate, France intervened militarily to push out the Muslim Seleka rebels and the United Nations launched its peacekeeping mission in 2014.

But the country remains plagued by violence.

Thousands have lost their lives and half a million people have been displaced, according to the UN, out of a population of roughly 4.5 million.

Since May, renewed clashes in the southeast have pitted armed groups against each other as they compete for control of minerals and areas of influence, while claiming to protect communities.

"The religious stance has been used only for political ends, for looting and for making off with the riches beneath the soil," said Oumar Kobine Layama, head of the Islamic Conference in CAR. "This is not a religious conflict."

Guterres's stay will be his first visit to the Central African Republic since taking office on January 1, although he regularly visited the country as former head of the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

In his latest report to the Security Council on CAR, Guterres requested reinforcements of 900 troops, but whether this will have a decisive impact on the ground is unclear.

Aid organisations say they are extremely worried about security.

"Humanitarian law is no longer being respected in CAR," Frederic Manantsoa Lai from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) told AFP, warning that humanitarian groups can no longer access many parts of the country due to armed militias.

"We are reaching our limits in terms of humanitarian aid because of a lack of security," he said.

"Since September 2016, we have seen a dozen intrusions in MSF hospitals - two women forcibly removed from Bangassou hospital and killed outside... in Zemio, a two-year-old child brutally murdered in hospital. The population is completely surrounded, and we are more and more exposed, we are taking more and more risks."

Read more on:    un  |  antonio guterres  |  central african republic  |  central africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.