UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon’s short visit to Central African Republic (CAR) earlier this month, warned the country would become another Rwanda if nothing is done. “Atrocity crimes are being committed in this country,” he said. “Ethno-religious cleansing is a reality. Most members of the Muslim minority have fled.”
Ban Ki-moon visited the Central Mosque in the capital Bangui, where approximately 10,000 Muslim civilians remain trapped. “The international community failed the people of Rwanda 20 years ago. And we are at risk of not doing enough for the people of the CAR today,” Ban told members of a transitional council.
Displaced families who have spent weeks sleeping outdoors on the grounds of the mosque held signs reading “Ban Ki-moon: We want to go to the north.”
The sectarian violence left 2.2 million, estimated half the population of CAR in need of humanitarian aid. More than 650,000 people are still internally displaced, and over 290,000, mostly Muslims, have fled to neighbouring countries such as Chad in search of refuge.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme warned that the country needs a “long and expensive” humanitarian operation over at least the next 18 months to stem the growing toll, and pave the way to rebuild livelihoods.
According to the UN there are still 19,000 Muslims who are trapped in places which are too dangerous for them to leave.
The presence of African Union 6,000 peacekeepers and French peacekeepers (2,450) has not helped. The crisis across CAR has led to thousands of Muslims dead with their bodies mutilated and dragged by mobs through the capital’s streets almost every day and in the rural region west of Bangui.
“We are in a moment where immediate action is needed to stop the killings,” said Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch, calling for a full-fledged UN peacekeeping mission. “Otherwise the future of the Muslim community of this country will be gone.”