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UN mission boosts presence in Central African Republic’s conflict-stricken southeast
Photo Courtesy: Central African Republic

UN mission boosts presence in Central African Republic’s conflict-stricken southeast

| @indiablooms | 28 Jun 2024, 05:19 pm

The UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) has expanded its presence in the country’s southeast to prevent further violence in areas heavily affected by conflict and systemic issues.

Briefing ambassadors at the Security Council on the situation in the country, head of the UN mission Valentine Rugwabiza stated that the additional deployment also facilitated the delivery of humanitarian aid in the restive and hard-to-access Haut Mbomou region.

Bordering South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the region – which is larger than Switzerland – has been a hotspot of conflict due to its strategic importance and limited accessibility.

“Within a very short time, working closely with national and local authorities, local communities and humanitarian partners, the mission is making tangible and transformative progress on the security, humanitarian and peacebuilding fronts in Haut Mbomou,” she said.

The expansion MINUSCA’s footprint there also paved the way for the extension of civilian authorities and CAR security forces through the ongoing rehabilitation of the Bangassou-Obo-Bambouti axis.

Mission background

The UN mission was established in September 2014 following a deadly flare up of inter-communal violence between the mainly Muslim Séléka groups and the mainly Christian anti-Balaka movement.

Its mandate includes protection of civilians as the “utmost priority” alongside supporting humanitarian operations, protecting and promoting human rights and the disarmament, demobilisation, reintegration and repatriation of fighters from neighbouring countries.

Farmer-herder conflict

Recurrent political and security crises in the Central African Republic have made transhumance (seasonal changes in grazing patterns for animal herding communities) a trigger for violence. 

Ms. Rugwabiza referred to the recent killing of 16 civilians in Limé village in the west of the country due to conflict over land between local farmers and cattle owners.

The incident, she stressed, was a “stark reminder” of the urgent need to reverse the dynamics of violence and to reposition livestock farming and transhumance to help forge peaceful coexistence, stabilisation and economic development.

Upcoming elections

Ms. Rugwabiza further updated ambassadors on preparations for local elections, scheduled to take place in October for the first time in over 36 years.

She emphasised that MINUSCA will continue to provide multifaceted support to election preparations, a key provision of the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the CAR.

This includes through awareness-raising to mobilise broad and safe participation, particularly of women, she stated.

Fighting misinformation

In her briefing, Ms. Rugwabiza voiced deep concern over the “continuous campaign” of misinformation and disinformation which are a threat to MINUSCA personnel and the mission’s objectives.

This, she said, “further complicates” an already challenging environment for peacekeepers.

“I call on the government to hold accountable identified individuals, including public servants, channelling and echoing such campaigns which…constrain the mission’s ability to implement tasks mandated by the [Security] Council and requested by CAR national authorities,” she added.

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