Ban concerned over human rights violations in CAR

New York, Apr 4 : United Nations Secretary-General Wednesday expressed alarm at the ongoing insecurity in the Central African Republic (CAR), and in particular by reports of grave violations of human rights, including rape and recruitment of child soldiers.

"I am extremely concerned by reports of grave violations of human rights, looting and pillaging, targeted attacks, rape, recruitment and the use of child soldiers in violation of international norms," Ban said in a message to the Extraordinary Summit of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) on the Central African Republic (CAR), being held in N'Djamena, Chad.

"It is unacceptable that Wednesday, children who had been separated from armed groups and reintegrated and reunified with their families, would again be recruited by leaders of rebel groups."

Fighting flared up again in CAR in December 2012 when the Seleka rebel coalition launched a series of attacks. The fighters took control of major towns and were advancing on Bangui, before agreeing to start peace talks under the auspices of the ECCAS.

A peace agreement was reached on 11 January in Libreville, Gabon, resulting in a ceasefire agreement and creating a government of national unity in which opposition figures were given key posts, but last month the rebels seized the capital, Bangui, in fierce fighting, forcing President Francois Bozize to flee.

In his message, Ban emphasized that impunity would not be tolerated and that those responsible for human rights violations should be held accountable for their actions.

He also stressed that the Libreville Agreements remain the appropriate framework for sustainable peace and stability in the CAR and renewed his call to authorities to ensure the restoration of security in the country.

"I am also concerned about the humanitarian situation," Ban said. "The difficulties in accessing humanitarian assistance and distributing seeds contribute to food insecurity that could lead to severe malnutrition in the months to come."

Ban reaffirmed the UN's willingness and determination to work with the ECCAS and other partners in the international community to find durable solutions to the crisis.

The Secretary-General was represented at the summit by his Special Representative and head of the UN peacebuilding office in CAR (BINUCA), Margaret Vogt.

--IBNS (Posted on 04-04-2013)

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