UN: Ban says inter-religious violence poses danger to CAR - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned that there is a real danger of further upheaval along religious lines in the Central African Republic (CAR), stressing that the past year’s events have profoundly damaged the relationship between Muslim and Christian communities and pose a long-term danger to the country.
'The horrific cycle of violence and retaliation between communities must stop immediately,' Ban said in his message on Thursday to the extraordinary summit of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), hosted by Chadian President Idriss Deby in the capital, N’Djamena.
He stated: 'Distrust is high and violence has fuelled anger and a thirst for revenge.' Ban highlighte the need to prioritize reconciliation efforts.
In the message, delivered by Mr. Babacar Gaye, UN Special Representative in CAR and head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office (BINUCA), the UN chief commended the ECCAS Heads of State for proposing an inclusive national conference.
He said that such a forum should provide all national actors with the opportunity 'to share their concerns, agree on common challenges, and collectively find a way out of this crisis, including through the preparation of elections'.
The secretary-general stressed that disarmament of combatants in accordance with international standards was essential, noting the importance of demobilization and reintegration of the former fighters.
Ban said that the UN and its partners had stepped up the humanitarian response but the situation remained 'extremely troubling'.
He expressed concern about 'widespread human rights abuses', adding that the UN was working to establish an International Commission of Inquiry to document the violations, in line with a resolution adopted by the UN Security Council in early December.
'Together, we must send a strong message that those committing atrocities will be held accountable,' he said.
The UN chief noted the quick deployment of the African-led International Support Mission to CAR (MISCA) and the French intervention force, SANGARIS, whose work 'prevented the situation from degenerating even further'.
Ban said that the UN would work closely with the African Union and other stakeholders in support of the upcoming donors' conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 1 February.
Armed attacks between ex-Seleka and Christian anti-Balaka militias have escalated significantly in the past two weeks, despite the creation of a transitional government following the attack a year ago by mostly Muslim Seleka rebels which forced President Francois Bozize to flee.
Since then, hundreds of people are said to have been killed, nearly1 million driven from their homes, while 2.2 million, about half the population, need humanitarian aid.