Central African Republic urgently needs international help, says UN human rights commissioner

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay appealed Thursday to the international community to turn its attention to the crisis in the Central African Republic, where deadly conflict between its Christian and Muslim populations has resulted in thousands of deaths and the displacement of almost a million people. CAR, she said, urgently needs international funding to re-establish law and order.
By JC Finley  |  March 20, 2014 at 4:27 PM
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United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay is frustrated by the international community's "slow response" to the on-going crisis in the Central African Republic.

Speaking Thursday from CAR's capital city of Bangui, the UN human rights commissioner painted a dire picture of a country badly run for 50 years now facing a breakdown of law and order amid deadly conflict between its Muslim and Christian populations.

"I am deeply concerned by the slow response of the international community. The vital humanitarian aid effort is deplorably under-funded, with only 20 percent of requirements met so far...

"Creating an effective justice system, prisons, police forces and other key State institutions, virtually from scratch, is a massive and complex enterprise that cannot be done on the cheap. The international community seems to have forgotten some of the lessons it learned in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Rwanda, Kosovo and East Timor -- to mention just a few....

"How many more children have to be decapitated, how many more women and girls will be raped, how many more acts of cannibalism must there be, before we really sit up and pay attention?"

Pillay met with this week with transitional government leaders who told her "in effect, there is no state: no coherent national army, no police, no justice system, hardly anywhere to detain criminals and no means of charging, prosecuting or convicting them."

Re-establishing security in the conflict-ridden country has been a focal point for the UN. In February, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon proposed a six-point plan to address the crisis in CAR. The first step, he said, would be to bolster the African Union and French troop presence.

Pillay attributed the halting of "large-scale killings... that took place in December and January" to the increased (albeit below optimal) number of AU peacekeepers and French military in known hot spots. Nevertheless, she said, "people continue to be killed on a daily basis."

Pillay acknowledged attempts by the transitional government and civil society to establish a Reconciliation Commission and a Permanent Commission on Dialogue, but emphasized that such endeavors "will find it very difficult to operate unless law and order and the justice system are restored."

To restore law and order in CAR, the UN human rights commissioner appealed to the international community for the necessary resources and funding.

CAR has been rocked by violence since the Muslim-backed Séléka group took control of Bangui in March 2013 and removed Christian President François Bozizé. Renewed violence broke out in the capital city of Bangui in December 2013.

[United Nations]

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