Warning: getimagesize(): Filename cannot be empty in /home/thebrics/public_html/wp-content/plugins/wp-open-graph/output.class.php on line 306
   Follow us on:   

Rights group says sectarian killings on the rise in CAR
July 16, 2014, 4:19 am

Human rights groups operating in the Central African Republic (CAR) have warned that sectarian conflict is on the increase in the eastern part of the country even as leaders there call for a national reconciliation conference.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Andre Nzapayeke urged all groups to attend a conference scheduled for next week in neighboring Republic of Congo, saying that such an initiative “is extremely important for the return of peace to our country”.

Human rights groups, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and other groups have warned since late last year when Christian militias began battling Muslim armed groups that the humanitarian situation had become dire.

In March, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos said 99 per cent of the capital Bangui’s once 100,000 Muslims had fled the violence which began when the government fell in December.

Her report was backed by UN High Commissioner for Refugees who said that ethnic cleansing may have occurred in other parts of the country.

In a statement published on February 12, Amnesty International said international peacekeeping forces “have failed to prevent the ethnic cleansing of Muslim civilians in [CAR].”

The organization described global response to the crisis as “tepid.”

In late May, the last Muslims were escorted out by peacekeepers.

Just days later, the UNHCR reported an exodus of thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) after a church where they had sought sanctuary came under attack in the capital.

“An attack in Bangui [the capital] on Wednesday on the Notre Dame de Fatima church has resulted in the deaths of at least 17 people and 27 civilians reportedly abducted by assailants who drove them to an unknown location,” a UNHCR statement said at the time.

A priest was also killed in the attack.

Some 9,000 IDPs who had fled fighting in other parts of the country had sought refuge in the church, some having arrived more than 18 months ago.

UNHCR spokesperson Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba said that 32 of the 43 official IDP sites are religious institutions.

“Churches, monasteries and mosques have till now been safe havens for internally displaced persons across the CAR,” she said.

A day later, a group of Christian men sacked an empty mosque in Bangui in a reprisal attack.

Ongoing sectarian conflict

Earlier this week, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement that one of its research mission in found that at least 62 people were killed in and around Bambari, in the eastern province of Ouaka, between June 9 and 23, 2014, due to fighting between Muslim Seleka rebels and the Christian anti-balaka militias.

“Witnesses on both sides frequently described the attacks as retaliatory in nature, indicating a growing cycle of tit-for-tat revenge killings between the communities. Most of the victims were men who were chopped to death by machetes,” HRW said.

The current crisis in CAR – a mineral rich nation of 4.6 million people – began when Seleka – a rebel amalgamation of several different factions – started moving toward the capital Bangui in March 2012, hoping to remove Francois Bozize, a military officer who seized power in 2003 and had been elected president twice since then.

The largely Muslim rebel group Seleka seized control of the Christian-majority country in the aftermath, and in some instances attacked and killed Christian civilians.

Early in January, the country’s National Assembly selected Catherine Samba-Panza to be the next president replacing Michel Djotodia – a Muslim, and former Seleka comander – who fled the capital Bangui to Benin in early January, a move that suggested violence might be quieting down in the capital.

However, Christian militias and citizens have upped their attacks against Muslim citizens in recent months, claiming to be avenging crimes committed by the rebel militias last year.

Reports earlier indicated that Djotodia had once again become the head of the Seleka rebels despite his exile to Benin.

Source: Agencies

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Anti-Spam * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.