The Central African Republic has seen an “alarming increase” in human rights violations since August, with at least 100 people killed, the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSCA said. “Since August 2016, MINUSCA has recorded an alarming number of violations and abuses committed by various factions of the ex-Seleka (rebellion), the anti-Balaka (militia) and their affiliates,” the peacekeeping agency said yesterday in a report.
“These incidents have caused the death of at least 100 people,” it added. The report came two weeks after UN chief Ban Ki-moon on November 29 called on armed groups to “immediately stop the violence”.
The country is struggling to emerge from a civil war that erupted in 2013 following the overthrow of former president Francois Bozize, a Christian, by Muslim rebels from the Seleka coalition. The coup led to the formation of “anti-Balaka” (anti-machete) vigilante units, drawn from the Christian majority, which began to target Muslims. Both sides committed widespread atrocities.
Militias are still flourishing given the weakness of the state. Former colonial power France intervened in 2013 to stop violent Christian-Muslim clashes and formally ended its peacekeeping mission only last month, hailing it a success despite fresh outbreaks of violence.
That leaves mainly the UN’s 12,500-strong MINUSCA peacekeeping mission to protect civilians from armed groups. Security and human rights are both areas of “major concern”, the report said.
The peacekeeping mission’s human rights division “has documented 1,301 violations and human rights abuses affecting at least 2,473 victims”, MINUSCA said, adding that that constituted a 70 percent increase on the period from September 2014 to May 2015.
The abuses “were primarily arbitrary executions, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, sexual violence, arbitrary deprivations of liberty, destruction and confiscation of private property, and restrictions on freedom of movement”, it added.
Among the victims there were “203 children including 91 boys and 67 girls”.
“A total of 46 children (31 girls and 15 boys)” had either suffered rape or other forms of sexual violence, it added. The report urged authorities in Bangui to step up the fight against impunity, with support from the international community.