The United Nations stabilization mission in the crisis-gripped Central African Republic (CAR) announced today that it has retaken public buildings in Bria, illegally occupied by ex-Séléka rebels.
UN spokesperson Farhan Haq told reporters in New York that the operation, conducted with the support of French forces, took place after the repeated refusal of the armed groups to peacefully evacuate the premises, and aimed at ending the existence of a parallel administration.
Mr. Haq added that Babacar Gaye, head of the UN mission, known as MINUSCA, reiterated the determination of international forces to protect the population and support the restoration of the State’s authority, for the organization of free, fair, transparent and open elections in the country.
Press reports suggest that UN peacekeepers and French forces used helicopters retake rebel-held positions in Bria, a town northeast of the capital, Bangui.
More than two years of civil war and sectarian violence have displaced thousands of people in the CAR. 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 remain trapped within the landlocked country in enclaves across the country, hoping to find asylum in neighbouring States.
In December, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous warned of a potentially explosive situation in the CAR amid continuing violent clashes between the mainly Muslim Séléka alliance and anti-Balaka militia, which are mostly Christian.