Central African Republic: military abuses will be probed, leader tells UN official

31 March 2007
John Holmes

In the Central African Republic (CAR), where civilians have been caught in the crossfire as rebels fight government troops, the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator today said the country’s president said any military abuses will be investigated.

In the Central African Republic (CAR), where civilians have been caught in the crossfire as rebels fight government troops, the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator today said the country’s president said any military abuses will be investigated.

“The President and I held useful talks on a range of issues, from the urgent and immediate humanitarian needs, to the problems caused by under-development,” said Under-Secretary-General John Holmes following his meeting with President François Bozizé in Bangui, the capital.

“I emphasized my concern about reports of abuses by all parties against civilians, including the people in the bush with whom I had spoken. President Bozizé told me that any Government military abuses would be investigated and dealt with promptly and correctly.”

Mr. Holmes was wrapping up a ten-day mission to three countries, including also Chad and Sudan.

While in the Central African Republic, the Under-Secretary-General visited several of the worst-affected areas in the country’s northwest where civilians have been caught in the midst of the ongoing conflict between government and rebel forces.

In the towns of Pendé and Paoua, he saw torched homes and entire deserted villages, and met with some of the thousands of men, women and children who are living in the bush, out of reach of basic amenities such as clean water, medicines, food and proper shelter, because they are too afraid to return to their villages.

Roughly 285,000 people in the Central African Republic have been forced to flee from their homes, 150,000 in the last six months alone, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

“There is an urgent need for humanitarian assistance, and the international community must increase its financial support for aid agencies providing emergency relief,” Mr. Holmes said, pledging also to work towards development in CAR.

“The United Nations is working with the government on these tremendous challenges. But we also recognize that humanitarian action cannot be a substitute for a political solution, which is why I urged the government to step up their efforts aimed at political dialogue.”

The Emergency Relief Coordinator, who took up his post at the beginning of this month, started his first official mission on 21 March in Sudan. After continuing on to Chad and finally the Central African Republic, he travels back to New York today and is expected to brief the Security Council on Thursday.

 

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