15 May 2017

Central African Republic: Christian Militias Launch Deadly Assault in Central African Republic

After a week of deadly attacks in the Central African Republic, UN chief Antonio Guterres has said the situation "is still fragile." The UN peacekeeping mission has warned assailants may return for another assault.

Armed groups launched a deadly assault on the Central African Republic border town of Bangassou over the weekend, UN officials and aid groups said Sunday.

"It is too soon to give precise statistics on the number of dead following the violence but it is clear that we are looking at numbers that could easily reach 20 to 30," MINUSCA chief Parfait Onanga-Anyanga told Reuters news agency.

Over the past week the Christian militias have "attacked civilian populations, targeting in particular Muslims" during the assault in Bangassou, which borders the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), MINUSCA said.

'Extremely deplorable'

In one attack that targeted a UN base, five peacekeepers were killed, including one from Morocco and four from Cambodia.

"The situation is extremely deplorable and we are doing everything to rapidly retake control of Bangassou," said the MINUSCA chief.

Despite international efforts to calm the situation in the landlocked African nation, ethnicand religiously-motivated violence has continued to erupt over the past four years.

In 2013, mainly Muslim Seleka fighters seized power and pushed out then-President Francois Bozize, sparking sectarian violence and reprisal killings from Christian-majority anti-Balaka militias.

'Outrage'

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a statement condemning the attacks, saying he was "outraged" by the assault on the 13,000-strong UN mission.

"The recent incidents amply demonstrate that the situation in the Central African Republic is still fragile," Guterres said.

The Catholic Church in the Central African Republic has attempted to persuade the militias to end the assault and leave the town, according to Catholic charity organization Caritas.

However, UN officials have expressed concerns that the assailants will return to stage further attacks. "We don't think that this is over," said MINUSCA spokesman Herve Verhoosel.

UN peacekeeping missions in Africa

DR Congo: UN's largest mission

Since 1999, the UN has been trying to pacify the eastern region of the DR Congo. The mission known as MONUSCO has nearly 20,000 soldiers and an annual budget of $1.4 billion (1.3 billion euros). Despite being the largest and most expensive mission of the United Nations, violence in the country continues.

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UN peacekeeping missions in Africa

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UN peacekeeping missions in Africa

CAR: Sexual abuse scandals making headlines

MINUSCA, the UN's mission in Central Africa Republic has not helped to improve the image of the United Nations in Africa. French troops have been accused of sexually abusing children by the Code Blue Campaign. Three years on, victims haven't got any help from the UN. Since 2014, 10,000 soldiers and 1,800 police officers have been deployed. Violence in the country has receded but tensions remain.

UN peacekeeping missions in Africa

Western Sahara: Hope for lasting peace

The UN mission in the Westsahara known as MINURSO has been active since 1991. MINURSO is there to monitor the armistice between Morocco and the rebels of the "Frente Polisario" who are fighting for the independence of the Western Sahara. In 2016, Morocco which has occupied this territory since 1976, dismissed 84 MINURSO staff after being angered by a statement from the UN Secretary-General.

UN peacekeeping missions in Africa

Ivory Coast: Peaceful end of a mission

The UN mission in Ivory Coast fulfilled its objectives on June 30, 2016 after 14 years. Since 2016, the troops have been gradually withdrawn. Former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said this was a "turning point for the United Nations and the Ivory Coast." But only after the full withdrawal will it be clearly known whether or not the mission was successful on a long-term basis.

UN peacekeeping missions in Africa

Liberia: Mission accomplished

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UN peacekeeping missions in Africa

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UN peacekeeping missions in Africa

Somalia: Future model AU mission?

UN peacekeepers in Somalia are fighting under the leadership of the African Union in a mission known as AMISOM. The soldiers are in the Horn of African country to battle the al-Shabaab Islamists and bring stability to the war-torn nation. Ethiopia, Burundi, Djibouti, Kenya and Uganda, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria have all contributed their troops for AMISOM.

Author: Martina Schwikowski

ls/cmk (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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