Central African Republic: UN Action needed to avoid 'human catastrophe'

The UN must take full account of the 'human catastrophe' unfolding in the Central African Republic (CAR) when considering the options presented by the UN Secretary-General on peacekeeping in that country, Amnesty International said today.

The situation is worsening on a daily basis in CAR, with extrajudicial executions, rape and other forms of sexual violence against women and girls widely committed with total impunity by members of the security forces and armed groups alike. Tensions and clashes between different ethnic and religious communities are on the rise.

Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International, said:

“The crisis is spinning out of control. It has been ignored by the international community for far too long.

“People are dying in the Central African Republic as we speak, and action is needed as a matter of utmost urgency. There is no time to delay.

“It is of vital importance that the UN works with other members of the international community, in particular, the African Union, the Economic Community of Central African States, and France to ensure that immediate concrete measures are put in place to establish law and order in the country.

“The international community must take action before it is too late to ensure that the abuses come to an end and that CAR isn’t catapulted into the international spotlight because it became a human catastrophe.”

In a report published last month, Amnesty denounced large-scale human rights violations and abuses in CAR. Satellite images published by Amnesty showed the shocking aftermath of abuses, including hundreds of homes that had been burnt to the ground and evidence of mass internal displacement.

The security situation has quickly deteriorated since last December, when a coalition of armed groups called Seleka launched an offensive against former President Francois Bozizé. Since Seleka seized power in March, violence by their fighters and other armed opposition groups has spiralled out of control in what has now become a largely lawless country.

Background

The majority of CAR’s population is Christian – as was former president Bozizé. The current President Michel Djotodia and most members of the security forces are Muslim, as are former Seleka fighters, who are mostly from the north-east of the country and from neighbouring Chad and Sudan.

CAR is awash with small arms and light weapons, with up to 20,000 former Seleka fighters, as well as other armed groups, having easy access to weaponry. Even in the capital Bangui, daytime attacks by armed groups, including killings by former Seleka fighters and current members of the security forces, are increasingly common.

In July, the African Union declared that it would deploy 3,500 soldiers to protect civilians in CAR. By the end of October approximately 2,600 of these troops had been deployed. France also has troops in CAR and has just announced the deployment of additional forces. 

View latest press releases