UN chief expresses alarm at escalating violence in Central African Republic
UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon Friday expressed profound alarm at escalating inter-communal violence in the Central African Republic (CAR), in spite of efforts underway to stabilize the country following the passage of a Security Council resolution a day ago.
A statement issued by Ban's spokesperson said that the latest reports from the ground are grim, indicating deepening conflict between Muslim and Christian communities and armed groups, with tragic consequences.
"The Secretary-General is closely following the situation in the Central African Republic," it said. "This horrific cycle of violence and retaliation must stop immediately. Civilians must be protected."
Following Thursday's attack on Bangui, the UN political mission in the country reported killings continued overnight, driving the death toll higher. Ex-Seleka and anti-Balaka elements have been reported raiding homes and killing adults and children. Hundreds of houses were reported burned in Bossangoa after an offensive by anti-Balaka elements was repelled, according to the UN.
"The Secretary-General appeals urgently for all parties to apply restraint and do everything in their power to reign in those fomenting and perpetrating the violence. Those responsible for grave violations must be brought to justice," said the statement.
Meanwhile, the UN chief stressed the importance of providing security and protection for the civilian population, facilitating humanitarian assistance, and creating the conditions for the return to constitutional order in CAR, in accordance with the timeline established in the Transitional Charter.
With a population of 4.6 million, CAR has been haunted by instability and poverty since its independence from France in 1960. It is listed by the UN as one of the poorest in the world despite its rich resources.
After rebels overthrew President Francois Bozize in March, the country plunged into a new wave of violence and sectarian clashes that forced thousands of people to flee to neighboring countries.
In an effort to protect civilians and provide security in the violence-ridden nation which is tottering on the brink of anarchy, the UN Security Council on Thursday unanimously approved the African Union's International Support Mission in the Central African Republic.