Amid reports of bodies found on the streets of the Central African Republic (CAR) capital of Bangui, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is again appealing for an end to the inter-communal violence between Christians and Muslims, calling the continued fighting "appalling."
In a statement from his spokesperson late Thursday, Mr. Ban also paid homage to six peacekeepers from the African-led International Support Mission (MISCA) killed the day before. The UN Security Council authorized the force earlier this month to quell the spiralling violence.
"He calls on all parties and citizens to cooperate with the African Union and French forces," said the statement. The spokesperson added that MISCA's mission is to provide "desperately needed security" and that its peacekeepers are not part of the conflict between Central Africans.
CAR has been thrown into turmoil since Séléka rebels launched attacks a year ago and forced President François Bozizé to flee in March. A transitional government has since been entrusted with restoring peace and paving the way for democratic elections, but armed clashes have erupted again, and in Bangui last week, Christians and Muslims launched reprisal attacks against each other in and around the city.
Mr. Ban called again on the Transitional Authorities to uphold their responsibilities to rein in "those fomenting and perpetrating" the violence, warning perpetrators that they will be held to account.
He welcomed appeals for peace by religious leaders, both Christian and Muslim, and expressed hope that leaders at all levels will reinforce this message.
In a personal video/audio message last week, Mr. Ban stressed that the world was watching and that the UN was committed to helping CAR recover from this crisis. "You are not alone and we will not abandon you," he told the people of the strife-torn nation.
Reaffirming his message, Mr. Ban added that the urgency at this time is to provide security and protection for the civilian population, facilitate humanitarian assistance, and create the conditions for a negotiated and orderly return to constitutional order.
He also noted the commitment of UN personnel working under "extremely trying circumstances" to help the people of the CAR, among them a national colleague killed on Tuesday, and said he was committed to the safety of all staff.
UN agencies have reported that the humanitarian situation in the country is deteriorating, with at least 600 people killed this month alone, and 159,000 others driven from their homes in Bangui.