24 September 2013

Central African Republic: Urgent Protection Needed for Displaced Persons in Central African Republic - UN Expert

An independent United Nations human rights expert today called for the urgent protection of civilians uprooted by the current crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR) which is marked by a virtual lack of security, massive displacement and a dire humanitarian situation.

"I urge the Transitional Government of the Central African Republic to do its utmost to ensure the protection of IDPs and to facilitate the humanitarian response," said Chaloka Beyani, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs).

"The situation of all those displaced, who hide in remote areas, including in the bush, in poor sanitary conditions and without access to basic services or clean services is extremely worrying."

The CAR - which has been marked by decades of instability and fighting - witnessed a resumption of violence last December when the Séléka rebel coalition launched a series of attacks. A peace agreement was reached in January, but the rebels again seized the capital, Bangui, in March, forcing President François Bozizé to flee.

The recent fighting has further eroded even the most basic services in the country and exacerbated an already dire humanitarian situation affecting the entire population of 4.6 million people, half of whom are children. Currently, 1.6 million people are in dire need of assistance, including food, protection, health care, water, sanitation and shelter.

Mr. Beyani noted in a news release that more than four months after the rebels seized power, there is virtually no security in the country, which is seeing widespread human rights violations and abuses, including attacks on the population, massive internal displacement, rape and looting.

As of early September, more than 260,000 people were internally displaced in CAR, including more than 100,000 children. Most displaced children are not able to attend lessons as schools have been destroyed, closed or occupied by armed groups. Displaced children are also reported to be particularly vulnerable to forced recruitment by armed groups.

The Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council (HRC) is set to hold an interactive dialogue on the situation of CAR tomorrow, while a ministerial-level meeting on the humanitarian situation in the country, co-chaired by Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos, will be held in New York.

"I call on the HRC to address the situation of internally displaced people in the country and to make concrete recommendations to that effect," said Mr. Beyani, who reports to the Council in an independent and unpaid capacity.

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