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April 06, 2014

Ban Ki-moon Says World Must 'Do More' to Curb Violence in CAR

by Anne Look

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is in Kigali Sunday to mark the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. 

During a stop in the Central African Republic he said the international community must "do more and act more quickly." Inter-communal violence in C.A.R. has killed more than 2,000 people since December and displaced an additional 800,000.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told the C.A.R.'s acting parliament, the National Transition Council, that their country is in a "state of anarchy."

Ban said the international community failed the people of Rwanda 20 years ago and is at risk of not doing enough for the people of the C.A.R. today. The U.N. leader noted that atrocious crimes are being committed in C.A.R., including lynching, decapitations and sexual violence. 

He told the council that "ethno-religious cleansing is a reality" and that "Muslims and Christians have been placed in mortal danger simply because of who they are or what they believe."

The secretary-general commended the efforts of French and African Union troops here but said they are "under-resourced and overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the need."

Ban said he continues to push for transforming the AU troops here into a U.N. peacekeeping force that would include 10,000 soldiers and about 2,000 police.

During his whirlwind visit to Bangui, the secretary-general greeted displaced persons outside the camp at the airport, a staggering makeshift patchwork of shelters home to about 60,000 people. Many have been there since December 5 when heavy fighting and inter-communal killing broke out in the capital.

A representative of the displaced persons at the camp told the secretary-general they are not there waiting for hand-outs. He says they want to go home, but many homes were looted or destroyed and their neighborhoods are not safe. He said disarmament is the solution.  

The secretary-general also visited the Central Mosque, where approximately 10,000 Muslim civilians remain trapped. Anti-balaka militia outside are a daily threat, despite international troops on the perimeter.

At the mosque, they held up signs saying they want to be evacuated. There were several signs calling for the division of the country, a growing concern here as the Muslim minority flees to relative safety in the northeast, a zone still under the control of the mostly Muslim ex-Seleka rebels.

An imam at the mosque read the secretary-general a dark inventory of what they have suffered since December - the murders, the threats, the destruction of their homes, businesses and mosques.

Ban Ki-moon spoke to the Muslims of Bangui. He said he is "saddened" by what he has seen.
"Your life," he said, "is very difficult and very dangerous." Human rights, he said, is top priority and he has deployed U.N. investigators to the C.A.R.  

Ban had the same message here as at every stop: "You can count on me," he said, the international community will not fail you.

The U.N. Security Council could vote on establishing a U.N. peacekeeping force for C.A.R. in a matter of days and Ban said he is pushing for "decisive action."  

But analysts say a U.N. force would likely not be able to deploy until at least September