Have UN peacekeepers given up on Central African Republic (CAR)?
In a deadly clash that has been described as the worst in CAR this year, over 20 people were killed and about a hundred injured. The fights started when a Muslim man was killed and dumped on the streets. As a result, the Muslim Seleka militants allegedly started attacking a neighbourhood, in which a large population of Christians reside, with automatic weapons.
These residents were forced to flee their various communities as houses and cars were burned. Angry protesters took to the streets to erect barricades and express their displeasure at the indiscriminate killings. The protesters also alleged that the UN peacekeeping forces did little or nothing to stop the violence that erupted in the capital city, Bangui.
In 2012, an organization of armed Muslim grouped called Seleka accused then president, Francois Bozize of not abiding by the peace agreements signed in 2007 and 2011. They staged a coup in the capital city in 2013 and forced Bozize to flee the country. In response to the Muslim Seleka group, some Christian fighters came together to form the ‘anti-balaka’ group and started carrying out reprisal attacks on the Muslims. Since the beginning of the crisis, over 5,000 people have been killed and more than 700,000 people are internally displaced.
Due to the scale of the crisis in CAR, the UN Security Council established a peacekeeping force known as the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). The UN peacekeeping operation incorporates military, police and civilian personnel that seek to give security, political support and help foster peace in the country.
The UN peacekeeping forces topmost priority is the protection of civilians. Their other mandates include the promotion and protection of human rights, humanitarian assistance and support for justice. But with the persistent high level of violence and lack of respect for basic human rights, recent events suggest UN peacekeepers are less committed to their mandate.
In terms of human rights violation, several allegations were raised against the MINUSCA members for raping women and sometimes minor in exchange of food and other basic amenities. The alarming rate at which women and children were being assaulted caused the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, to call for Babacar Gaye’s resignation. Gaye was the former UN Mission Chief.
On Monday, September 28th, over 500 inmates escaped from the Ngaragba jail, which escalated already existing causalities and death toll. Over 35 people were reportedly killed and a child was beheaded. This new wave of violence led to a protest in which people have asked the UN peacekeeping officials to leave the country because seems they have not been effective in protecting the civilians in CAR.
Although a MINUSCA official has released a statement that the mission troops are ‘doing all they can’, evidences suggests the local communities do not feel the same.
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