New York, US - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for solidarity and concerted action by the UN and regional organisations to help the people of the Central African Republic (CAR), warning that 'dark clouds of mass atrocities' are looming over the country.
A UN statement, obtained by PANA in New York on Saturday, quoted Ban as saying that, 'the United Nations and its regional partners face an urgent test check the situation in CAR'.
The statement was issued following a closed-door meeting by the UN Security Council on cooperation between the UN and regional organisations.
He stated: 'The dark clouds of mass atrocities and sectarian cleansing loom over the Central African Republic, as public lynchings, mutilations, and other horrendous acts of violence are spreading mayhem and fear.'
'All Central Africans have been victims, Muslims and Christians alike,' he noted.
Ban also said that peace, security, human rights, development, everything the UN stands for and seeks to promote is under assault in the country.
The UN chief said: 'We must live up to the promises made around this table to act swiftly and robustly in the face of such bloodshed. We cannot claim to care about mass atrocity crimes and then shrink from what it means to actually prevent them'.
'Our commitment to protect civilians is only as meaningful as the political, military and financial muscle deployed to defend them. Our responsibility is clear: We must stand with the people of the Central African Republic,' he stressed.
Ban, however, commended the Economic Community of Central African States [ECCAS] and the African Union (AU) for their intensive efforts to address the crisis and for the establishment of the African-led International Support Mission in the CAR (MISCA).
He also thanked the Government of France for deploying its forces, and said he looked forward to the forthcoming military contributions by the European Union (EU), to be coordinated with the MISCA operation.
'I am committed to do everything in my power to prevent further atrocities and reduce the risk of de facto partition of the country. Now we must act together, we must act decisively and we must act now to prevent the worst,' he said.
The secretary-general also added that he intends to return to the Security Council on Tuesday with recommendations for containing and then ending the crisis.
'I look forward to discussing with you what it will take to urgently curtail the violence, save lives, protect human rights, support the delivery of humanitarian assistance and strengthen command and control of the forces on the ground.
'This will be a crucial opportunity to fortify our collective efforts – a chance to show that cooperation between the UN, AU, EU and others can help the people of the CAR at their time of need,' he concluded.
The statement said that the meeting was chaired by the Foreign Minister of Lithuania,
Mr. Linas Linkevicius, which holds the Security Council’s rotating presidency for February.
Thousands of people are estimated to have been killed in the conflict in CAR, which erupted when mainly Muslim Seleka rebels launched attacks in December 2012 and has taken on increasingly sectarian overtones as mainly Christian militias, known as anti-Balaka (anti-machete), have taken up arms.
The conflict has also left an estimated 2.5 million people well over half of the country’s 4.6 million residents in need of humanitarian assistance.