Further to our earlier blog, The Central African Republic (CAR) is "close to being a failed state" and threatens to spread chaos in the heart of the continent, UN officials have warned.
The UN security council heard that CAR, plunged into anarchy by a coup five months ago, could become a haven for Islamist extremist groups and Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army. The security council has described the situation as "a total breakdown of law and order" with reports of killings and widespread looting, rape, kidnapping and torture.
The new UN envoy to the CAR, retired lieutenant-general Babacar Gaye, warned that, with no proper chain of command, "the country runs the risk of descending into anarchy and chaos". All council members agree that the country is "close to being a failed state and we should absolutely take action", Gaye added.
Valerie Amos, the UN's humanitarian chief, called on the security council to take swift action to restore security and end the suffering of millions. "Over the past months, the humanitarian situation has deteriorated dramatically and has shifted from being a long-term crisis of poverty and chronic vulnerability to a complex emergency characterised by violence, acute needs and grave protection issues. The failure to act now could not only prolong and exacerbate the appalling conditions the people of the Central African Republic have had to endure, but could also see the crisis spread beyond its borders and throughout a region already facing enormous challenges."
The turmoil has affected the 4.6 million-strong population in its entirety, Amos added. About 1.6 million people are in dire need of food, protection, healthcare, water, shelter and other assistance. More than 206,000 people are displaced within the country, with many hiding in the bush. Nearly 60,000 have sought refuge in neighbouring states, two-thirds of them in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Aid agency Save the Children warned this week that more than 100,000 children faced sexual abuse and recruitment into armed groups in the former French colony.
“Although the international community continues to hold meetings and talk inanely, nothing concrete is being done to help people here or hold back the extremists, terrorists and Islamists who are inflicting such damage...while security was already weak, it’s now vanished completely.” said Carmelite Father Aurelio Gazzera, who works in Bozoum, Central African Republic. “Whereas it might have been possible to do something at the beginning, when rebel numbers were limited, the international community has allowed this crisis to develop too long,” he said. “There are now 15,000-20,000 armed men at large, joined by petty delinquents, so it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to rein them in.”
Charles-Armel Doubane, CAR's ambassador to the UN, appealed for international help to build "a modern state: one of peace, security and stability, where simply living is good".