A senior United Nations relief official in the Central African Republic (CAR) has strongly condemned the abduction of a French aid worker by unknown assailants and called for her immediate release, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today.
According to media reports, the unnamed 67-year old worker was kidnapped on Monday in the CAR capital of Bangui – the latest incident involving a humanitarian worker in the war-torn country. Since January 2014, 18 humanitarian workers have been killed in the country and more than 130 security incidents directed at such workers have been documented.
In a press release, the UN interim Humanitarian Coordinator, Mohamed Malick Fall, called upon the perpetrators for her ‘immediate and safe release’ and deplored such acts which, he said, come ‘at a time when the needs among the Central African people are so great.’
“This abduction threatens the whole humanitarian effort for displaced people and populations in need,” the press release continued.
“The humanitarian community appeals to all Central Africans and international forces to work towards her immediate release as well as facilitate the delivery of urgent humanitarian assistance to people in need country-wide.”
More than two years of civil war and sectarian violence have displaced thousands of people in the CAR amid continuing clashes between the mainly Muslim Séléka alliance and anti-Balaka militia, which are mostly Christian.
According to UN estimates, nearly 440,000 people remain displaced inside the country while some 190,000 have sought asylum across the borders. At the same time, more than 36,000 people – including the Peuhl ethnic group – remain trapped in enclaves across the country, hoping to find asylum in neighbouring States.
Since September 2014, MINUSCA has arrested over 200 individuals in its support to the CAR authorities to maintain rule of law. Nonetheless, the situation in the country remains tenuous, with Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, recently warning that the atmosphere in the Central African Republic was potentially explosive.