Conflict & Justice

Central African Republic crisis gets UN Security Council experts, but not actions



Seleka rebel alliance members take up positions the Central African Republic.


Sia Kambou

The United Nations Security Council is sending experts into Central African Republic before taking any actions aimed at stopping the deepening crisis there, Reuters reported

The council heard updates on Wednesday about the deteriorating situation in one of the world's poorest nations. It had been asked to fund and support an African Union peacekeeping initiative in CAR trying to restore order.

However, Reuters said the Security Council won't discuss a resolution until after UN and African Union experts return from an impending fact-finding mission.

Undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs, Valerie Amos, told the council on Wednesday that violence in CAR could spill into nearby nations.

She also told of random arrests, torture, murder, sexual abuse and children recruited to fight. More than 200,000 people have been displaced by a recent rebel-led coup.

“If inadequately addressed, this crisis threatens to spread beyond the Central African Republic’s borders and to further destabilize a region already facing significant challenges,” Amos said.

The African Union recently established a 3,600-strong peacekeeping operation in CAR to protect civilians, restore security and public order, restore state authority, reform defence and allow humanitarian aid delivery.

Still, tens of thousands need medical attention while more are malnourished. 

More from GlobalPost: Civil war is killing children in Central African Republic, but not with bullets

Last week, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged targeted sanctions against the Seleka alliance and rebel leader Michel Djotodia, who wrested power from President Francois Bozize in March.

The two sides had agreed on a coalition government in January, but the March coup quickly sabotaged the country.

Lieutenant General Babacar Gaye, who leads UN efforts in CAR, warned of "anarchy." 

“As there is no proper chain of command, the country runs the risk of descending into anarchy and chaos,” Gaye said. “Some police officers are reporting to work, but are not equipped to work safely and effectively. Furthermore, they do not trust and they fear their Séléka counterparts.”

Save the Children has reported 100,000 young people have fled their homes for fears of sexual abuse, disease and the prospect of becoming child soldiers.

“Families are running out of food, and many are still hiding in the bush, afraid to return home. When they are not direct victims of violence, children have often witnessed their homes and schools being looted and their parents threatened or beaten,” said Maria Wangechi, Save the Children’s CAR country director.

In July, Doctors without Borders accused the international community of ignoring the “humanitarian emergency” gripping CAR. It published a report called “CAR: Abandoned to its Fate?”

The group said it cannot carry out vital programs like mosquito net distribution because of security concerns.

“We are facing one of the worst years in terms of the impact of malaria,” said Ellen van der Velden, head of mission in CAR.

It has now created a refugee crisis, with the UN saying 63,000 people have fled the violence to neighboring countries.

Despite CAR’s inherent wealth – with diamonds, timber, coffee and cotton making up exports – the World Bank estimated in 2008 that 62 percent of the population lives in poverty.

More from GlobalPost: Ban Ki-moon urges sanctions against Central African Republic rebels