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CAR: Civilians under imminent threat, says Amnesty

Central African Republic - Christian and Muslim civilians in Baoro and Bossemptle in the north-west of the Central African Republic (CAR) are in imminent danger of attack due to the very strong presence of anti-balaka militias in towns where international peacekeepers are nowhere to be seen, an Amnesty International delegation in the region has said.

Armed clashes between anti-balaka militias and remnants of the ex-Seleka forces and their supporters over the last week had resulted in civilian fatalities and casualties, as well as the burning of hundreds of homes, the global human rights watchdog said in a press statement obtained by PANA in Nairobi on Monday.

“There is a huge risk of a major human tragedy because of the complete absence of any peacekeeping force. The situation in this part of the Central African Republic is very volatile and the international peacekeeping effort is vital to protect the thousands of civilians from both communities,” said Amnesty International’s senior crisis adviser Donatella Rovera who is currently in the region. 

“More deaths are very likely but this could be prevented by even a small presence of international peacekeepers. In nearby towns with similar tensions, the presence of international forces is undoubtedly making a difference.  The same is needed in Baoro and Bossemptele. 

“Peacekeepers were sent to the CAR with a clear mandate: to protect civilian lives. They must not fail it.” 

Amnesty noted that in addition to the strong presence of anti-balaka militias, remnants of ex-Seleka forces and their supporters were also still active in the area, increasing the levels of danger. 

It said lack of transport and any basic facilities or humanitarian aid meant that civilians displaced by the conflict were stranded in the area, unable to flee to safety and without any support in dire humanitarian conditions. 

Pana 27/01/2014