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UN agencies alarmed as humanitarian situation in Central African Republic deteriorates

Refugees from Central African Republic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
UNHCR/B. Sokol
Refugees from Central African Republic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

UN agencies alarmed as humanitarian situation in Central African Republic deteriorates

The United Nations says that aid agencies in the Central African Republic (CAR) remain preoccupied by the alarming deterioration of the humanitarian situation, particularly in the capital, Bangui, and in Bossangoa.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), nearly 400 people have been killed and hundreds more injured since 5 December, in armed clashes between factions.

“The death toll is rising, the majority of the population have no access to health facilities because of the insecurity and the bodies are still collected daily in the affected zone,” OCHA said in a news release issued yesterday.

The country has been experiencing upheaval since last December when the Séléka rebel coalition launched a series of attacks, culminating in March when President François Bozizé was forced to flee.

A transitional government, headed by Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye, has been entrusted with restoring law and order and paving the way for democratic elections. However, armed clashes in the north-east have increased since August, and the country is facing a dire humanitarian situation in which half of its population of 4.6 million are in need of immediate assistance.

“The population has suffered enough,” said the acting UN Humanitarian Coordinator in CAR, Rokhaya Daba Fall. She called on all parties committing acts of violence to respect the protection of civilians and to ensure their security as well as the safety of humanitarian organizations operating to alleviate the suffering of the people affected by the crisis.

Unlimited and unhindered access should be guaranteed to allow organizations to deliver assistance where needed in a neutral and impartial manner, she stressed.

OCHA said that UN agencies and humanitarian partners in CAR have intensified operations to provide shelter, drinking water, sanitation, food security and health to internally displaced people and they are reinforcing civil-military coordination and supporting reconciliation efforts.

Meanwhile, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) today voiced her concern over the unfolding events in CAR, particularly reports of serious ongoing crimes.

“The deteriorating security situation over the past several days has contributed to the escalation of unlawful killings, sexual violence, recruitment of child soldiers and other grave crimes, across the country,” Fatou Bensouda said in a statement.

She underscored that war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide fall under the subject matter jurisdiction of the ICC, which is based in The Hague. “I hereby call upon all parties involved in the conflict, including former Séléka elements and other militia groups, such as the anti-Balaka, to stop attacking civilians and committing crimes, or risk being investigated and prosecuted by my Office. The victims of such crimes cannot be left unheard.”

Ms. Bensouda welcomed the international community’s efforts to stabilise the security situation in the country and end the violence, noting in particular the arrival of the African-led and French-backed peacekeepers which the Security Council authorized last week to quell the violence.

She also welcomed the planned international commission of inquiry to investigate reports of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law and rights abuses in CAR by all parties since 1 January 2013, saying that the initiative will “galvanise collective efforts to bring perpetrators of serious crimes to justice.”