UNITED NATIONS — Top UN official for refugees warned that entire Muslim populations from western parts of Central African Republic have been cleansed by Christian militias, sending an emotional appeal to the UN Security Council to stop the deadly conflict, France 24 reported on Friday, March 7.
“Since early December we have effectively witnessed a 'cleansing' of the majority of the Muslim population in western CAR,” Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told a meeting of the 15-nation UN Security Council on Thursday.
Over the past weeks, thousands of terrified civilian Muslims fled for their lives to escape killings, looting and harassment by armed Christian militias.
Their flight follows months of escalating attacks on Muslims in the strife-torn republic.
Going from door to door, anti-Balaka Christian militias have raided Muslim homes, killing children and women, looting and vandalizing properties, the UN report revealed.
Deployed to cripple the ongoing fighting in CAR, the French peacekeeping forces have disarmed the ex-Seleka rebels, allowing Christian militias to retaliate from the disarmed Muslim community.
Guterres, who recently travelled to the country, told the council he does “not remember any visit in my eight-year tenure that caused me more anguish”.
“I was deeply shocked by the barbarity, brutality and inhumanity that have characterized the violence in this country,” he added.
His speech at the UN Security Council comes as the council considers a proposal for a nearly 12,000-strong peacekeeping force, which will cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
Due to current funding problems, the UN forces is not expected in CAR before late summer.
“Just last week, there were about 15,000 people trapped in 18 locations in western CAR, surrounded by anti-Balaka elements and at very high risk of attack,” Guterres said.
“International forces are present in some of these sites, but if more security is not made available immediately, many of these civilians risk being killed right before our eyes.
“The demon of religious cleansing must be stopped – now,” he added.
UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos, who has also recently travelled to CAR, warned that violence has totally broken down CAR.
“The violence has led to the total breakdown of the state, locally and nationally,” he was quoted by France 24.
Amos told the council that there are more than 650,000 people internally displaced in CAR due to the conflict, over 232,000 in the capital Bangui alone, and that the government “has no capacity to stop the spiral of violence”.
UN peacekeeping chief Hervé Ladsous called for urgently sending “rapid and generous financial support” to MISCA – the 6,000-strong African Union force already in Central Africa.
“The state has virtually no capacity to manage the massive array of threats it is facing,” Ladsous said.
“There is no national army and the remnants of the police and gendarmerie lack the basic equipment and means to exercise their duties, while state administration is largely absent.”
CAR, a mineral-rich, landlocked country, descended into anarchy in March of last year when Seleka rebels ousted François Bozize, a Christian, who had come to power in a 2003 coup.
Over the past weeks, anti-balaka Christian militias have raided Muslim homes killing children and women and looting and vandalizing properties.
Along with killing, kidnapping, torture and arbitrary arrest and detention, in the war-torn CAR, a UN investigation found evidences of sexual violence.
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