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Central African Republic ‘highly unstable’ despite significant progress – UN peacekeeping chief

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Despite a successful presidential election and other notable progress, the Central African Republic (CAR) continues to be plagued by violence and volatility, the head of UN peacekeeping operations told the Council on Tuesday. of security.

Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, praised the country’s peacekeeping mission, MINUSCA, which provided security to thousands of internally displaced people, helped safeguard democratic order and to protect civilians “in the face of persistent attempts by the coalition of armed groups to suffocate the country”.

However, despite these “remarkable efforts”, he argued: “The situation remains very unstable”.

Alarming humanitarian situation

At the same time, insecurity has blocked the passage of more than a thousand trucks carrying life-saving supplies, food and medical necessities, to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ongoing violence has also resulted in “further significant displacement and increased humanitarian needs and prompted civilians to seek refuge again in neighboring countries,” Lacroix said.

The Central African Republic “is now the most dangerous place for humanitarian action,” he added, noting that it accounted for more than 46% of global incidents recorded by international non-governmental organizations last month.

Glimmer of hope

And yet, in “a major achievement”, the country is on the way to successfully concluding a democratic transfer of power within the constitutional deadline, according to the UN official.

Two years after its signature, the Political Accord remains “the only viable framework for peace,” Lacroix said.

“It is now essential that these democratic gains are preserved by completing the electoral process and by advancing a peaceful resolution of the crisis,” he said.

To begin to “heal national trauma,” the UN peacekeeping chief called for “inclusive and meaningful dialogue … without delay” and for the international community to support national efforts by “fostering cooperation and coherence in the peace process ”.

Strengthen the mission

Mr. Lacroix told the Council that as the “main guarantor of the security of the civilian population”, MINUSCA is addressing the volatile situation and responding to increased protection needs.

However, warning that the mission is overloaded, he recommended the addition of 2,750 military and 940 police to “strengthen the capacity of MINUSCA to carry out its mandated priority tasks … namely, protect civilians, create the conditions. conducive to progress in the political process, and to facilitate the safe delivery of humanitarian assistance ”.

Against the backdrop of seven peacekeepers killed in hostile attacks during election violence and two others in the line of duty during the same period, Lacroix argued that an increase would also help protect staff from the UN.

A reinforcement “would make it possible to meet the increased needs, as well as the existing capacity of MINUSCA”, he continued, highlighting the efforts underway to optimize the performance of the peacekeeping mission.

Advancing Peace

Mr. Lacroix painted a picture of the increase in human rights violations, the increase in kidnappings of civilians and killings. Attacks on aid workers, extrajudicial killings and conflict-related sexual violence are also on the rise, and he said promoting peaceful dialogue must be combined with tackling impunity, including for crimes serious crimes committed during the election period.

“This will require a commitment by national authorities to pursue accountability for violations by state and non-state actors, while safeguarding human rights and preserving and expanding civic space,” he said.

The UN chief of peacekeeping operations stressed the importance of reviewing and adjusting security needs in order to restore the operational readiness of the national defense and internal security forces.

“The Central African people have suffered so much and deserve our unwavering support and attention,” he said, while acknowledging “the courage and sacrifice” of MINUSCA personnel in this “exceptionally difficult context”.

Other voices

Meanwhile, Rita Laranjinha, Director General of the European External Action Service in Africa, stressed to the ambassadors her support for all efforts to end impunity for rights violations, as a key element of reconciliation and a sign of respect and justice for the victims and their families. .

She stressed that official corruption must stop and called for swift attention to “disinformation” and hate speech that endangers peacekeepers and undermines trust in governance.

Kessy Martine Ekomo-Soignet, director of the youth-led peacebuilding organization, URU, spoke of a climate of “fear” that pervades much of CAR society, but argued that the call to peace was always heard, loud and clear.

“Our hopes are stronger than our fears,” she said, calling for redoubled efforts to “silence the guns” and honor the dreams of communities for peace.

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