Last updateVen, 30 Jan 2015 9pm

UNAIDS boss alarmed at looming CAR 'humanitarian tragedy'

Bangui, CAR – UNAIDS executive director, Mr Michel Sidibé, on Wednesday expressed concern at the looming “humanitarian tragedy” in the Central African Republic (CAR), characterised by the unprecedented political, social and security crisis.

Mr. Sidibé, who is visiting CAR to participate in a joint mission of the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in a bid to evaluate the needs for a humanitarian corridor, told PANA in an exclusive interview that 'if we don’t act rapidly, CAR might lose a whole generation'.

He said the situation was getting more complicated and was aggravated by “ethnic and religious cleansing” in the country where in the absence of national police and army, the population had been abandoned and lived in an extraordinary fear of killing perpetrated by militias.

Mr. Sidibé hailed the efforts and commitment of the transition government established nearly a month ago, saying that the hope raised by the election of Mrs Cathérine Samba-Panza as interim president remained tangible because she “is trying to focus government's vision for security and restoration of rule of law”.

However, she would need strong support to revive justice, reorganise an administration whose personnel had not been paid for a long time and rebuild a hardly existing army, he said.

In the meantime, hundreds of displaced people in refugee camps, without appropriate support, continue to see their hopes disappear as they brace themselves up for the rainy season, which would add to their plight. More than 2.3 million people affected by the CAR crisis, or half of the country’s population, are waiting for the international community for more help.

In another development, the UNAIDS chief stressed that of the displaced people, young men were more vulnerable to the prevalence of HIV/AIDS following the collapse of the rule of law and the deterioration of the fight against the pandemic.

Mr Sidibé said that the hope to end the crisis depended on the speeding up of the deployment of the various African, French and European intervention forces aimed at securing and stabilizing the country.

'One cannot but wait to see the vision of an African force emerge. But this can’t be achieved rapidly. We need to move progressively to set up that force,” said Mr Sidibé.

The African Union at the last summit of heads of State and government raised the need to complete the setting up of the African force to intervene in conflicts in the continent.

Pana 20/02/2014