UN calls on CAfrica to guarantee the safety of peacekeepers
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United Nations (United States) (AFP)
The UN Security Council on Monday called on the Central African Republic and “all forces present” in the conflict-ravaged country to ensure the safety of its peacekeepers – likely an implicit rebuke from Russian soldiers there in as “instructors”.
In a statement unanimously approved at a closed-door meeting led by France, the 15 council members also called on CAR forces, peacekeepers and others to coordinate their efforts.
The Council did not identify the other “forces” but appeared to refer to a large contingent of Russian soldiers acting as unarmed “instructors” in the country.
Many witnesses and NGOs claim that the instructors are in fact paramilitaries from the Wagner group, a private shadow military company that actively participates in the fight against Central African rebels, alongside Rwandan special forces and peacekeepers from the United States. UN.
The Security Council also did not elaborate on what had prompted their sudden meeting on the issue, simply saying that “attacks on United Nations peacekeepers could constitute war crimes.”
A diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity that the UN mission in the country (MINUSCA) has been the subject of “obstacles and media attacks on the ground.”
At the end of May, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, who visited the Central African Republic, cited “incidents” between peacekeepers and other forces, without giving details.
Council members received a briefing from MINUSCA chief Mankeur Ndiaye, but no details were made public.
“The members of the Security Council strongly condemned the human rights violations and the abuses and violations of international humanitarian law in the CAR, and stressed the need to bring their perpetrators to justice,” the statement said.
“They called on all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and to ensure safe and unhindered humanitarian access.
France, the former colonial power of the CAR, said on Monday it was freezing aid and military cooperation with the government in Bangui, accusing the authorities of being complicit in an anti-French disinformation campaign orchestrated by Russia.
Paris is under strong pressure to lift the arms embargo against the Central African Republic, in place since 2013 and which expires on July 31.
In a recent letter to the Security Council, published Monday by the UN, Angola, the Republic of Congo and the CAR again called for a special meeting to obtain the lifting of the embargo. A previous request in February went unheeded.
The perpetually unstable Central African Republic, one of the poorest countries in the world, has been in the throes of civil war since a coalition of armed groups toppled the government in 2013.
© 2021 AFP