On the heels of his recent visit to the Central African Republic (CAR), where the deadly rift between Christians and Muslims continues to widen, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today in a radio message appealed to all Central Africans to build a unified country through peace.
"Your future is not partition and bloodshed. It must be unity and peace," Mr. Ban said in a personal appeal to fathers, mothers and children to end the increasing inter-communal violence that is tearing apart the country.
He noted the Muslims and Christians "have always lived together in peace" in the CAR, and urged citizens to not give into extremists who want to destroy the country and wreck their children's futures.
This is the second time that Mr. Ban has taken to the airwaves to make a personal appeal to CAR citizens. In a February video message, he called on religious and community leaders, Muslim and Christian, to act as messengers for peace.
The violence has taken on an increasingly sectarian nature following a 2012 rebel-led coup and has since become more brutal with reports of ongoing human rights violations and clashes that have displaced hundreds of thousands of people and left 2.2 million in need of humanitarian aid.
"Many of your fellow citizens have fled their homes," Mr. Ban said in today's appeal. "They must feel safe to return."
He also warned those committing human rights abuses that they will be brought to justice.
The Security Council recently approved the deployment of 10,000 troops and almost 2,000 police for a new UN peacekeeping mission for CAR. It is not expected to be fully deployed before September.
Until then, support for African Union and French forces is considered crucial in stemming the violence. Mr. Ban had urged the European Union to continue to provide troop reinforcements.
Despite the presence of international troops, displaced families are exposed to disease, malnutrition and untold horrors beyond the gates of the African-led mission, Mr. Ban said following his visit two weeks ago to the country to show solidarity with the people, hear their stories and share them with the world.
During that visit, he also noted support needed for the transitional Government, including getting police, judges and prison guards back to work, and assistance in establishing an inclusive political process.