UN chief Guterres to visit Central African Republic

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will visit the Central African Republic (CAR) early next week to draw attention to fragile situation in the country, the agency said in a statement.

The statement said Mr Guterres would be in Bangui for the United Nations Day on Tuesday.

The statement quoted Mr Guterres saying at the UN headquarters on Wednesday that he would meet with CAR leaders and the 12,000 man UN peacekeeping mission, MINUSCA “to pay tribute to the work of peacekeepers around the world who show tremendous courage in volatile environments”.

The UN peacekeeping mission has been at the centre of sexual violence allegations since its deployment in 2014 and Mr Guterres told reporters that during the visit, he hopes to give impetus to the new approach to addressing the issue.

“We know that the good work and tremendous sacrifice of peacekeepers around the world has been tarnished by the appalling acts of some UN personnel who have harmed the people they were meant to serve,” the UN chief said.
MINUSCA faces one of the highest numbers of rape allegations of all UN missions. One mission chief has been sacked while peacekeepers accused of sexual abuses, like those from the Republic of Congo, have been withdrawn.

There has been a recent increase in communal tensions leading to violence and a deterioration in the humanitarian situation across CAR.

Mr Guterres is also scheduled to visit Bangassou in the south, where heavy fighting re-erupted in May.

The growing violence has not only been deadly on civilians, but also on UN aid workers and peacekeepers. Since the beginning of this year, the UN says 12 relief workers and 12 peacekeepers have been killed “in hostile acts”.

CAR, one of the world’s poorest countries, descended into turmoil in March 2013 following the overthrow of President Francois Bozize by the Seleka rebels. The coup triggered the country's worst crisis since its independence from France in 1960.

According to the UN, the conflict has displaced 1.1 million people—600,000 internally and 500,000 into neighbouring countries, including Cameroon. Also, 50 per cent or 2.4 million Central Africans depend on aid for survival.

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