The United Nations has condemned the murder of well-known French photojournalist Camille Lepage, whose body was found in the Bouar region in the western part of war-torn Central African Republic (CAR), where she had been working.
“I condemn the killing of Camille Lepage, whose only desire was to show, through her work, the fate of marginalised populations,” said Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), calling on the country’s authorities to do everything possible to shed light on the circumstances of her death and bring the authors to justice.
UNESCO says that Ms. Lepage, 26, was a freelance photographer who published her work in numerous media, including Libération, Le Parisien, Le Monde, Time, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. In 2012, she moved to South Sudan and had been working in CAR since September 2013.
According to a communique from the French Government, her body was found yesterday by French peacekeeping troops, known as Sangaris, during a car search in the western part of the country.
Also voicing strong condemnation of the killing was the UN Security Council, which stressed that those responsible shall be held accountable.
In a press statement issued in New York, the Council recalled that, in accordance with international humanitarian law, journalists, media professionals and associated personnel engaged in dangerous professional missions in areas of armed conflict are generally considered as civilians and shall be respected and protected as such.
“The members of the Security Council deplored the ongoing violence and killing in the Central African Republic that has resulted in so many lives lost and so much displacement,” said the statement, adding that the 15-member body reiterated its full support for the African Union International Support Mission in the country (MISCA) and the French and European Union forces who support it, and called on all parties to cooperate fully with the Mission.
Thousands of people are believed to have been killed in the violence that has swept CAR following a 2012 coup led by the mainly Muslim rebel coalition, Séléka. The fighting has taken on a deeply sectarian tenor as anti-balaka militia, comprised mostly of Christians, have begun waging a brutal campaign of reprisal attacks. Charges of massive human rights abuses have been levelled against both groups, and the crisis has now left some 2.2 million in need of humanitarian aid.