New York, US - UN Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Ms. Valerie Amos, on Thursday stressed the need for urgent action to confront the challenges facing the Central African Republic (CAR).
s. Amos made the statement at a UN Security Council meeting convened to consider UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s proposals for deploying a peacekeeping mission that would be tasked, first and foremost, with protecting civilians in the strife-torn nation.
She said the situation in CAR remained extremely grave and urgent action by all, including the Council, was required to prevent further bloodshed.
Ms. Amos, who recently visited the country, reported that the crisis that had gripped CAR for more than a year had left the State unable to deliver basic services or to stop the spiral of violence.
'In addition, there is no national army, and the police and the gendarmerie are ill-equipped to address current challenges,' she said.
She noted that CAR was experiencing unacceptable sectarian brutality, persistent insecurity and fear with tragic humanitarian consequences.
More than 650,000 people are still internally displaced, with more than 232,000 in the capital, Bangui, alone. This includes 70,000 people who are still living at a site for internally displaced persons (IDPs) at the airport in appalling conditions which are set to worsen dramatically with the onset of the rainy season.
'Unless the current trajectory is urgently reversed, the demographic and social changes taking place in CAR will have severe and lasting consequences for the country, the region and the continent,' she stated.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr. Antonio Guterres, who was also recently in CAR said that in addition to those displaced within the country, over 290,000 people had fled to neighbouring Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of Congo.
'Rarely has a field visit in my eight-year tenure as High Commissioner caused me such anguish as my recent trip to the Central African Republic,' he told the Council.
'I was deeply shocked by the barbarity, brutality and inhumanity that have characterized the violence happening in the country,' he added.
Mr. Guterres also stressed that the most important protection and humanitarian objective inside CAR was to re-establish security and law and order.
According to him the immediate reinforcement of international forces, in particular with police contingents to ensure security in the neighbourhoods, was the biggest imperative.
In his briefing, UN Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Mr. Herve Ladsous, noted that the current deployment of international security forces – the African-led International Support Mission to CAR (MISCA) and the French mission, known as Sangaris, was not sufficient.
Mr. Ladsous said that the forces lacked the civilian component to adequately protect civilians under imminent attack.
He said: 'Addressing the crisis in the Central African Republic requires a unified and integrated approach, through the deployment of a multidimensional peacekeeping operation, with the protection of civilians as its utmost priority.'
He added that the UN was uniquely positioned to deploy and sustain such a mission with the full range of capacities required to address the deep-rooted nature of the complex crisis unfolding in the country.
Mr. Ladsous said the mission’s objectives, in the early phase of its deployment, would focus on providing a secure environment, a sine qua non for progress in other areas, supporting the Transitional Government to exercise basic state functions, supporting peace and reconciliation efforts.
'The mission will also support extension of State authority, protecting basic human rights, and facilitating the delivery of humanitarian assistance,' he said.
He said that there would be no quick fix in the Central African Republic, adding that responding to the crisis would require time and resources.
'The scale of needs in the Central African Republic is daunting, and progress in any one area will not be sustainable without significant and simultaneous engagement in others.
'The deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping operation should therefore be part of a broader, long-term engagement of the international community,' the UN official stated.
In a report sent to the Security Council earlier this week, UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, outlined his proposal for the establishment of a nearly 12,000-strong UN peacekeeping operation in CAR that would aim at re-hatting as many MISCA troops as possible.