LONDON, MAY 10 – United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has strongly condemned an attack against a convoy of the UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic (CAR) that left four dead, one missing and 10 others evacuated. “Attacks against United Nations peacekeepers may constitute a war crime,” Mr. Guterres said through his spokesperson yesterday on the attack perpetrated by suspected anti-Balaka elements against a convoy of the UN Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSCA) on 8 May.
He called on the CAR authorities to investigate the attack – executed on the Rafai-Bangassou axis, in the country’s south east – in order to swiftly bring those responsible to justice. The Secretary-General also reiterated his support to the actions of MINUSCA to protect civilians and stabilise the Central African Republic, and called “on all parties to heed President Faustin Archange Touadéra‘s call to cease violence and work together towards the stability of the country.”
Later in the day, the members of the UN Security Council also condemned the attack and also expressed their deepest condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims, and their deepest sympathy to the families of the peacekeepers injured and the peacekeeper missing, as well as to Cambodia, Morocco, and to MINUSCA. They wished the injured a speedy recovery. In a press statement, the Council urged the Central African Republic authorities to continue the search for the missing peacekeeper from MINUSCA. Strongly condemning all attacks and provocations against MINUSCA by armed groups, the Council also reiterated that such attacks may constitute war crimes.
Clashes between the mainly Muslim Séléka rebel coalition and anti-Balaka militia, which are mostly Christian, plunged the country of 4.5 million people into civil conflict in 2013. The President of the UN General Assembly Peter Thomson arrived in CAR “to show solidarity with our United Nations people on the ground, particularly our peacekeepers.” Instability in the country has convinced the four largest NGOs including Italian INTERSOS to withdraw their staff to the capital Bangui. (@OnuItalia)