Despite truce, killings mount in CAR conflict
DESPITE a truce signed just the day before, 50 people have been killed in Bria, in the Central African Republic (CAR), following clashes between rival armed factions.
As human rights abuses, including killings, rapes and the targeting of UN peacekeepers continue unabated, the UN has warned that the wave of violence wracking the country is unsustainable.
On Tuesday, bodies lay in the streets of Bria, around 580km north-east of the capital, Bangui, while dozens more people were treated for shotgun wounds after fighting erupted at dawn, Al Jazeera reported.
Doctors Without Borders said they had already received 35 wounded at the hospital the group runs in Bria by early morning, with most of the wounded suffering gunshot wounds.
The UN Mission in CAR reported that the fighting erupted near a camp housing people who had been forced to flee previous outbreaks of violence.
“We regret the presence of armed elements in IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camps, which causes problems not just in Bria but also in other locations. It’s a reality,” said Minusca spokesman Vladimir Monteiro.
Human Rights Watch warned yesterday that people with a range of disabilities who were often unable to flee violence were especially vulnerable to attack while trying to flee.
The bloody clashes on Tuesday erupted just a day after Bangui signed a ceasefire accord with 13 of the country’s 14 rebel groups, a deal that was brokered by the Catholic community following five days of intensive negotiations in Rome.
The deal enabled armed groups to have political representation in return for an end to attacks and blockades.
While the office of President Faustin-Archange Touadera, who was elected last year, applauded Monday’s deal, calling it “an historic accord”, other reactions in Bangui were less optimistic.
“This accord simply follows the same scenario repeated over and over,” said Joseph Bindoumi, president of the Central African League of Human Rights.
“Those who signed are mocking the people.”
Furthermore, Djamil Babanani, a spokesman for the Popular Front for the Rebirth of the CAR stated that although his group had signed the deal they retained the right to defend themselves.
Following the disturbing developments, Marie-Therese Keita Bocoum, the UN’s independent expert on human rights in the country, warned that armed groups were spreading at a “worrying” rate in central and southern areas, particularly in the regions of Ouaka, Mbomou and Basse-Kotto”.
Last month, clashes in Bria, Alindao, Bangassou and Mobaye, east of Bangui, left 300 dead and 200 wounded, according to the UN’s humanitarian co-ordination agency.
CAR is facing a dire crisis with more than 50% of the population needing humanitarian assistance. As of last month, there were more than 500 000 internally displaced persons nationwide.
Clashes between the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel coalition and anti-Balaka militia, which are mostly Christian, plunged the country of 4.5 million people into conflict in 2013.
Seleka fighters stand in the town of Bria, Central African Republic.