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Foreign Ministers of the United Nations: Deploy Peacekeepers to Stop Ethnic Cleansing in Central African Republic

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Foreign Ministers of the United Nations: Deploy Peacekeepers to Stop Ethnic Cleansing in Central African Republic
  
  

 

Why this is important

Dear Foreign Ministers of the United Nations:

As I write to you, life in Central African Republic (CAR) has descended into unimaginable, uncontrolled bloodshed.

Images flowing out of the country paint a scene of unprecedented carnage. The above photograph, used with the permission of National Geographic photojournalist Marcus Bleasdale, offers a glimpse of the rampant destruction being done to the people and the land. Here:

"A member of the Christian population around PK13 on the outskirts of Bangui runs through looted and burning homes of the Muslims who have fled after the Seleka President Michel Djotodia resigned and left the country in disarray. The country was ruled by a minority Muslim government after the coup in March 2013. After months of oppression by the Muslim Seleka Government the local population [is taking] out their anger and frustrations on the largely innocent Muslim population."

- Marcus Bleasdale (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/02/140207-central-african-republic-violence-marcus-bleasdale/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=Social&utm_content=link_fb20140208news-marcphotce&utm_campaign=Content)

French and African Union peacekeepers, deployed to CAR to protect civilians, are unable to stop widespread brutal sectarian violence. Assaults on Muslims and their property in whole neighborhoods in Bangui, as pictured in PK13, and in towns liberated from Seleka (Muslim) militias are forcing Muslims to leave their homes. They flee because peacekeepers currently lack the manpower necessary to protect them from marauding bands of anti-Balaka (Christian) militia intent on killing all Muslims, brutalizing their broken bodies and destroying their property; attempting, it seems, to erase their existence from the pages of Central African Republic's history.

Sunday morning, February 9, 2014, in the remaining densely populated Muslim neighborhood in Bangui, Bleasdale reports:

This morning at least ten people were hacked to death or shot and bodies were burning in the street in Kilo 5, Bangui. -- Marcus Bleasdale (https://twitter.com/marcusbleasdale)

Within the last few days, thousands of Muslims have fled Bangui for Chad and Cameroon under the armed escort of African Union troops. Many thousands more wait to flee because exodus means, even if they lose their livelihood and property, they may still keep their lives. The anger of Christian militias is so great that on Friday, February 7, 2014, a Muslim man who fell off a convoy truck was hacked to death by an anti-Balaka mob and left dead: missing a foot and a hand, and genitally mutilated in the street. The unthinkable act of his murder is terrifyingly familiar to civilians trapped in CAR. It has become a daily bloodletting.

Anti-Balaka violence is not isolated to Bangui, and is rapidly spreading throughout CAR. Last week in Yaloke, Muslims were given twenty-four hours to leave or be murdered. Property belonging to those who fled was ransacked and looted, leaving the town utterly devastated; resembling the aftermath of a hurricane.

The Emergency Director at Human Rights Watch, Peter Bouckaert, explains the impact of sectarian violence on Yaloke’s Muslim community:

“Yaloke used 2 have 30K Muslims and 8 Mosques, now has 300 Muslims and 1 Mosque, protected by #Sangaris [French peacekeepers]. Same story everywhere in #CARcrisis – Peter Bouckaert (https://twitter.com/bouckap)

In the Northeast, Seleka militias are regrouping. Christians caught in their path do, and will likely continue to, suffer the same fate as Muslims caught by anti-Balaka militias: lynching and desecration.

In the Northwest, an armed movement named Justice et Redressement is reported to be operating in and around Paoua and Boguila. The purpose of this militia is not currently known. However, there is a real risk that as the country continues to disintegrate third-party armed groups will form to pursue their own agendas and/or foreign Jihadis will be attracted to the fight in defense of Islam.

Addressing the crisis in CAR now is critical. The world cannot sit by as whole towns and cities are depopulated by grotesque bloodletting and ensuing fear, hoping that the vastly outnumbered peacekeepers in-country will somehow be able to turn back the violence. The world cannot pin the hope of peace on the interim president and transitional council. The public lynching Wednesday, February 5, 2014, of a suspected Seleka supporter by a crowd of regrouping CAR (FACA) soldiers just moments after a presidential address, which encouraged reconciliation, should indicate what little influence the interim government has to end the violence. As if this point begged more proof, it is also reported that Jean-Emmanuel Ndjaroua, a member of the National Transitional Council, was shot to death at home Sunday, Februrary 9, 2014, presumably as a response to his call for an end to violence.

One million people have been displaced by horrific sectarian strife, and every day in CAR begins and ends with greater loss. The people of CAR, all people of CAR, need a mandated peace protected by a strong, impartial force. The people of CAR need the United Nations' assistance.

I write to you today to ask the United Nations to immediately approve additional peacekeeping forces for the Central African Republic, and to deploy adequate forces as soon as possible to prevent greater loss of life and further damage to the prospects of securing peace.

I am aware that the United Nations recently authorized an additional one thousand EU peacekeepers for CAR, and that those forces will deploy by the end of April 2014. I am also aware that the African Union will deploy an additional one thousand peacekeepers by the end of March 2014. I am further aware that the French will increase their Sangaris operational strength by four hundred troops. However, those forces, once in theater, will arrive too late and be insufficient in strength to stop the catastrophic ethno-religious cleansing currently being committed against CAR's Muslim communities, will arrive too late to halt the mass exodus of CAR's Muslim civilians currently streaming from the capital to Chad and Cameroon, will arrive too late to guarantee the safety of relief workers as they desperately attempt to feed over two and one-half million people currently in need of humanitarian assistance due to this violence-induced food crisis; and will be insufficient in strength to create safe havens by clearing and holding areas wracked by violence, impose curfews, and disarm militias. Without an immediate larger contingent of peacekeepers ethnic cleansing in CAR will continue.

CAR requires the world’s long-term commitment to end the bloodshed, secure peace and facilitate inclusive dialogue, and to recover its landscape from what can only be described as catastrophic destruction.



Sincerely,

Posted February 10, 2014
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