CAR: UN Refugee Agency Concerned Over Rights Abuses

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has expressed concern over the humanitarian conditions in the Central African Republic (CAR) after finding evidence of widespread human rights abuses.
Seleka fighters in the Central African Republic (file photo)
Seleka fighters in the Central African Republic (file photo)

The UNHCR said on Friday that its aid workers, who were on a mission in northern CAR, found some villages that had been burned and abandoned.

“The UNHCR team confirmed widespread lawlessness in the region. Local people spoke of physical assaults, extortion, looting, arbitrary arrest and torture by armed men,” said spokeswoman Melissa Fleming.

Last week, the agency’s team travelled to an area around 500 kilometers (310 miles) north of the capital Bangui.

“We are, in general, increasingly worried about the civilians caught in the middle of the fighting and who are at the mercy of anyone with a gun,” said the spokeswoman.

“Near the town of Paoua the team “found seven villages burned to the ground and deserted — and an eighth village partially burned — with villagers hiding in the bush,” Fleming stated.
Seleka rebels launched an offensive against the CAR government in December 2012.

On January 11, then President Francois Bozizé and the representatives of the Seleka rebels signed an agreement in Libreville, Gabon, after three days of negotiations brokered by regional neighbors.

However, the deal fell through, and Michel Djotodia, leading thousands of Seleka rebels, captured Bangui and proclaimed himself president after seizing power from Bozizé on March 24.

There are many mineral resources, including gold and diamond, in the Central African Republic. However, the country is extremely poor and has faced a series of rebellions and coups since it gained independence in 1960.

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