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Thursday, 16 January 2014

Reprisal Attacks Target CAR Muslims

CAIRO – Reporting mass-killing in the Central African Republic, the United Nations has accused French “peacekeepers” of leaving unarmed Muslim families to face death at the hands of Christian militias in the war-torn country. "They were obviously trying to disarm armed men, which was a good thing,” UN human rights spokesman, Rupert Colville, was quoted by IB Times on Wednesday, January 15. “There were anti-balaka elements or even civilians who took advantage of that to attack and kill people who had been disarmed, or their dependents.It wasn't foreseen but I believe the tactics have changed.”

Releasing the first findings of the UN investigation, based on 183 interviews, the UN human rights team revealed the conflict in Central African Republic has caused more than 1,000 deaths. Deployed to cripple the ongoing fighting in CAR, the French peacekeeping forces have disarmed the ex-Seleka rebels, allowing Christian militias to retaliate from the disarmed Muslim community.

Going from door to door, anti-balaka Christian militias have raided Muslim homes killing children and women and looting and vandalizing properties. The French troops have been accused of turning deaf ears to atrocities against Muslims, watching Muslims killed in cold blood. Although the clashes appear to have diminished, killings and human rights violations are still carried out with impunity.

Along with killing, kidnapping, torture and arbitrary arrest and detention, in the war-torn CAR, a UN investigation found evidences of sexual violence. A case of cannibalism has been reported too when a video showed a Christian man chewing the flesh of a Muslim driver killed in Christian mob. "Muslim! Muslim! Muslim. I stabbed him in the head. I poured petrol on him. I burned him. Then I ate his leg, the whole thing right down to the bone - with bread. That's why people call me Mad-dog," Mad Dog, whose real name is Ouandja Magloire, told the BBC. Reacting to the horrible video, the UN warned of an “extraordinarily vicious levels" of bigotry.

"Extremely Volatile"
Senior UN envoy John Ging has warned against the possibility of further violence as the country is still in a "mega-crisis".

"Everything has been lost," Ging told the BBC.
"Homes have been destroyed, facilities, schools and medical centres completely ransacked and destroyed [along with] water wells."

Ging added that more than a million people have fled their home in CAR. "And with that displacement, of course, you have all the humanitarian needs: shelter, food, medical care and so on," he said.

"Our great fear is that it will deteriorate and spiral out of control. Although for a million people it's already out of control." Similar fears were expressed by NGO International Medical Corps spokesman Josh Harris. "The most common conditions among refugees are malaria (39%), acute respiratory infections (20%) and diarrhoeal disease (18%)," Harris told IBTimes UK.

Former CAR president Michel Djotodia resigned after he faced pressure to step down, being considered by many unable to halt the bloodshed.  Djotodia, CAR's first Muslim leader, became president after a coup d'├ętat staged by the Muslim Seleka group last March.  The UN warned that the CAR conflict could end in genocide and some 2.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Amnesty International called for international intervention as crimes against humanity including extrajudicial executions and mutilations of bodies are being committed throughout the country. Discussing the ongoing violence in CAR, UN Human Rights Council is expected to hold an emergency session next Monday, January 21 in a bid to offer solutions to the conflict.  The country of nearly five million people is mostly Christian, with about 15 percent Muslims who are concentrated in the north.


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