8 August 2017

Central African Republic: UN Warns of Genocide in Central African Republic

Photo: HRW
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The UN's aid chief has alerted member states of the "early warning signs of genocide" amid increasing violence. The African nation has seen the worst sectarian violence since the overthrow of the government in 2013.

The Central African Republic risks plunging deeper into a humanitarian crisis if the international community fails to respond to growing violence, said UN aid chief Stephen O'Brien on Monday.

"Violence is intensifying, risking a repeat of the devastating destructive crisis that gripped the country four years ago," O'Brien told a special UN briefing. "The early warning signs of genocide are there. We must act now."

Sectarian violence has plagued the nation since 2013, when an alliance of Muslim-majority rebel groups known as the Seleka overthrew then-President Francois Bozize.

The insurrection triggered reprisal attacks from "anti-Balaka" militias made up of Christian and animist groups. While efforts to stabilize the country tempered violence in the aftermath of the putsch, fighting has flared in recent months.

Violence between armed groups left roughly 300 people dead and 100,000 others displaced in May, marking the worst flare-up since the overthrow of the government.

"We cannot underestimate the dangerous spread of military groups in CAR, some of which have the intention to ethnically cleanse," said O'Brien.

'Much worse'

The UN aid chief told member state representatives at the briefing that the crisis in CAR cannot be adequately dealt with when its mission is underfunded.

Only 24 percent of the $497 million (421 million euros) requested this year have been given to the mission in CAR. O'Brien noted that continuing to underfund humanitarian operations will likely exacerbate the situation on the ground.

"The real risk is much, much worse as confessional and ethnic militias rampage through villages, cleansing them of people not of their type," said O'Brien.

The UN mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) comprises 12,870 military staff and police personnel. It is authorized until November 15.

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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.

UN peacekeeping missions in Africa

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UN peacekeeping missions in Africa

S.Sudan: Turning a blind eye to fighting?

Since the beginning of South Sudan's civil war in 2013, nearly 4 million people have been displaced according to the UN. Some of them are being sheltered in UN compounds. But when clashes between government forces and rebels broke out in the capital Juba in July 2016, the blue helmets failed to effectively intervene. Later, the Kenyan UNMISS commander was sacked by former UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

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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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The UNISFA soldiers are patrolling the disputed oil-rich region of Abyei. Sudan and South Sudan both claim to be rightful owners of this territory located between the two countries. More than 4,000 blue helmets from Ethiopia are deployed. Ethiopia is the world's second largest peace-keeping contributor. At the same time, the Ethiopian army is accused of human rights violations back home.

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

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