Peacekeepers of the United Nations must ensure safety for the civilian population

Central African Republic: Security Council debates on dramatic situation (November 25)

The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) demands an immediate deployment of UN peacekeepers to the Central African Republic in order to protect the civilian population of the country, which is shaken by a civil war. "The International Community must finally take action against the bloody clashes between the Christians and Muslims and against the violence spread by warlords," said Ulrich Delius, the STP's Africa-consultant, in Göttingen on Sunday. "Every tenth citizen of the country is already on the run from the violence. About half of the country's population of five million is dependent on humanitarian aid from abroad. Only UN peacekeepers could prevent a mass extinction."

On Monday, the UN Security Council will debate on a deployment of peacekeeping forces to the Central African Republic. While Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the UN, and the French representatives are in favor of deploying up to 6,000 peacekeepers, the United States only want to provide financial support for the African Union's MISCA-forces. "But it is questionable whether the African soldiers can be deployed fast enough to stop a further escalation of violence – because the African forces are lacking financial support, transport capacity and even the determination to prevent a further bloodshed." According to the STP, the deployment of peacekeeping forces only makes sense if the International Community were to help set up a functioning state administration at the same time. "There will be no peace as long as the warlords are able to terrorize the civilian population without having to fear any punishment," said Delius.

During recent months, the tensions between the rivaling ethnic groups and religious communities have increased dramatically. Since the predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels took over power in March 2013, their fighters have committed numerous attacks on Christians and Bahai'i. They attacked priests, believers and church buildings and burned down houses inhabited by Christians. The Seleka troops even attacked the Cathedral of the Capital city of Bangui and several charity institutions. In turn, the Christians set up vigilantes, who harassed Muslims based on their faith alone – for example by systematically destroying market stalls of Muslim traders. In September 2013, more than 150 people died in the unrest. Last week, the United States and France had warned about an imminent genocide in the Central African Republic. The Christians make up about 75 % of the population (40 % Protestant and 35 % Catholic). Only around 10% of the population are Muslims and another 10 % belong to the indigenous religions.

"The cycle of violence is getting out of hand," warned Delius. The authorities have failed to control the Seleka fighters and the Christian vigilante group who are plundering and committing indiscriminate murder and rape. The state order has collapsed. Also, the total number of child soldiers from all conflict parties has doubled (to about 6000) since March of 2013.