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Central African Republic

    January 20, 2014

    The new interim President of the Central African Republic must urgently rein in the “out of control” anti-balaka militias currently forcing scores of people from Muslim communities to leave the country in a bid to escape terrifying abuse, Amnesty International said.

    Catherine Samba Panza was appointed by the interim parliament as interim President of the African nation today.

    “People from Muslim communities feel totally unprotected from anti-balaka attacks and terrified about what might happen to them if they stay in the country. Even those who were born in the Central African Republic and have never set foot outside of the country are now trying to escape to Chad,” said Joanne Mariner Senior Crisis Adviser at Amnesty International, who is currently in the Central African Republic.

    “Reining in the anti-balaka militia and ensuring the Muslim population is safe from attack must be a top priority for interim president Catherine Samba Panza.”

    Over the past ten days, it has been reported that hundreds of Muslims have been victims of attacks, including unlawful killings, with many being forced to leave their homes.

    January 10, 2014

    The resignation of the Central African Republic’s interim President, Michel Djotodia, risks exacerbating the risk to civilian lives, and indicates the urgent need for increased peacekeeping forces in the country, Amnesty International said today.

    The African Union’s failure to fulfil its promise to deploy a full contingent of peacekeeping forces to the country means the size of the peacekeeping force is insufficient to protect a highly vulnerable population.

    “More than a month after the UN vote there are still fewer than 4,000 African Union troops, in addition to the 1,200 French troops. In the meantime more than a thousand lives have been lost and hundreds of thousands are still trapped in camps for displaced people, too afraid to go home.”

    “Tensions are going to be particularly high in the Central African Republic in the wake of the interim President’s resignation, highlighting the desperate need for increased protection for the civilian population,” said Joanne Mariner, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Advisor. 

    December 18, 2013

    Posted at 0001 GMT 19 December 2013

    War crimes and crimes against humanity are being committed in the Central African Republic, Amnesty International said at the close of a two-week mission to the country.

    The organization is calling for the rapid deployment of a robust UN peacekeeping force with a clear mandate to protect civilians – and sufficient resources to do so effectively.

    “Our in-depth research on the ground in the Central African Republic over the past two weeks has left no room for doubt that war crimes and crimes against humanity are being committed by all parties to the conflict,” said Christian Mukosa, Amnesty International’s Central Africa expert.

    “Crimes that have been committed include extrajudicial executions, mutilation of bodies, intentional destruction of religious buildings such as mosques, and the forced displacement of massive numbers of people.”

    The three-person Amnesty International delegation has documented the violations and abuses that have taken place since violence erupted on 5 December in the capital, Bangui, with an early morning attack by anti-balaka militia.

    December 16, 2013

    Susanna Flood, Director of Media at Amnesty International, blogs from Bangui

    Her voice began to choke and then the tears began to flow down her face as she calmly and steadily recounted the long list of names of all the women and children killed in her village when the anti-balaka struck a week ago.

    Sitting in a darkened hospital ward at the Hôpital Communautaire, she gracefully removed her headscarf and revealed the stitches laced across her scalp where the machete had struck. Alongside her was her four-year-old daughter with a matching wound on her head, also the victim of machete attacks.

    Nearly everyone in her village near Bangui, the Central African Republic’s capital city, had been wiped out in these early strikes by the anti-balaka militia who unleashed the carnage that has since been wrought on Bangui.  

    We met her one week after she had suffered those attacks and she told us what happened in her village with amazing calm and dignity. In her ward were numerous women also recovering from the various machete and bullet wounds inflicted by unknown attackers in the violence that has run riot across Bangui and the nearby villages.

    December 12, 2013

    The African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council must act urgently and clarify its plans to deploy the new African-led peacekeeping mission to tackle the spiraling human rights and humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic, Amnesty International said today.

    A week has passed since the UN Security Council unanimously authorized the transition of an existing central African states force on the ground to protect civilians into a one-year African-led peacekeeping mission joined by French peacekeepers.

    In a letter, Amnesty International has urged the AU Peace and Security Council to break its silence and spell out the concrete action it is taking urgently to put forces on the ground and ensure effective protection of civilians.

    “A clear plan and concrete action are urgently needed from the African Union to prevent the crisis in Central African Republic spiraling completely out of control,” said Netsanet Belay, Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    December 12, 2013

    Joanne Mariner, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International, blogs from Bangui

    One of the most depressing aspects of the ongoing violence in the Central African Republic is its symmetry.

    Christian and Muslim militia alike are carrying out equally vicious attacks. And members of both communities, while denouncing each other’s crimes, will tell you that their own people are acting in self defence.

    With each new outrage, the pattern of tit-for-tat atrocities becomes harder to break.

    The day before yesterday I interviewed a Christian man who recounted how he was nearly killed in a raid last week on the outskirts of Bangui, the country’s capital. Shot in the side at close range, he survived by playing dead; he claims that others from his neighbourhood were not as lucky.

    “It was the Peuhls,” he said, referring to an ethnic group of nomadic Muslim herders. “They were armed with Kalashnikovs.”

    December 11, 2013

    Susanna Flood, Amnesty International’s Director of Media, blogs from Bangui

    There is hatred in their eyes as they spit their words out at you: “Djotodia doit partir”, Michel Djotodia, transitional President of the Central African Republic, “must go”.

    These same words were emblazoned in graffiti on walls around a small unremarkable mosque near the Assemblée Nationale, on the Avenue de l’Independence – one of Bangui’s principal roads that is heavily patrolled by the French, African (members of the Multinational Force for Central Africa – FOMAC) and ex-Seleka troops, where a revenge mob had gathered.

    They had burned the mosque, as well as the Imam’s house. And they were running riot, removing anything that could be taken from the building.

    They pulled the corrugated iron from the roof and fled with their trophies into the neighbouring quarter of Fouh.

    Others, men and women together, gathered in the dusty grounds, shouting encouragement to the mob, beating at the walls with whatever instruments they could find or writing their graffiti in large letters on the remaining walls, declaring their hatred of the president.

    December 09, 2013

    Central African Republic: International community must ensure effective  protection of civilians

    The civilian population of the Central African Republic is in urgent need of protection, Amnesty International said today from the capital Bangui, four days into the worst spate of violence in the conflict to date.

    The organization has seen scores of dead bodies in the city's central morgue and visited some of the many sites where an estimated 60,000 people have sought refuge across Bangui. Similar scenes are reportedly playing out in Bossangoa and elsewhere in the country.

    “The high number of people fleeing their homes in search of a safe refuge attests to the widespread fear and deep insecurity that has spread across Bangui neighbourhoods,” said Christian Mukosa, Amnesty International’s Central Africa expert, currently in Bangui.

    The number of people seeking sanctuary at these sites increases at night when even more people leave their homes to hide in church compounds and other perceived areas of safety, as the likelihood of attack is higher in their areas.

    December 06, 2013
    People stand near bodies found lying in a mosque and in its surrounding streets in the Central African capital Bangui. (c)SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images

    Susanna Flood, Amnesty International’s Director of Media, blogs from the Central African Republic as our current research mission continues

    On the surface, everything is quiet in Bangui, the tiny capital city of the Central African Republic. Strangely quiet. But behind this silence, stories of devastation are emerging. The city is calm but people are afraid.

    There are virtually no cars on the road and an eerie silence is hanging over the city.  And then you hear a short burst of gunfire coming from one of the various quartiers which have been beset by fighting since early yesterday or French fighter jets do a sudden and unexpected fly-pass, making their presence in the city known.

    There is no clear toll of those killed or wounded in the attacks between so-called anti-Balaka, said to be loyal to ousted President Bozizé, and the former Seleka forces of new President Djotodia. But those in the know say at least 200 have been killed, making it the largest death toll in one day since this crisis erupted.

    December 05, 2013

    Soldiers patrol on December 5, 2013 in a street of Bangui as shots rang out.(c)SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Image



    Revenge killings are being reported across Bangui and other parts of the Central African Republic today in the aftermath of the military clashes that happened in the early hours of the morning, Amnesty International said today.

    December 05, 2013

    The international community must give peacekeepers in the Central African Republic all the means necessary to protect civilians or risk an escalation in atrocities that could spill over to neighbouring countries, Amnesty International warned as the UN Security Council authorized deployment of an African Union (AU) force.

    The UN vote – which came just hours after clashes erupted overnight in the capital Bangui – authorizes deployment of  AU and French troops to protect civilians, restore law and order and end the spiraling human rights violations and abuses.

    “The lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians hang in the balance, made brutally clear by these attacks on the capital. The international community must do everything in its power to ensure these troops can effectively protect civilians and restore order to the Central African Republic,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    December 01, 2013

    Released  0:01 GMT on Monday 2 December 2013

    The UN Security Council has no time to waste to authorize a robust peacekeeping force for deployment to the Central African Republic to protect civilians from the violence and chaos engulfing the country, Amnesty International said today.

    This week, the Security Council is expected to give French and African Union troops on the ground an initial mandate to rein in the armed groups responsible for spiralling human rights abuses. But a full-fledged UN peacekeeping operation may be necessary to overcome the current crisis.

    November 25, 2013

    The UN must take full account of the human catastrophe of epic proportions unfolding in the Central African Republic (CAR) when considering the options presented by the UN Secretary-General on peacekeeping in that country, Amnesty International said.

    The situation is worsening on a daily basis in CAR, with extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings, rape and other forms of sexual violence against women and girls widely committed with total impunity by members of the security forces and armed groups alike.

    “The crisis is spinning out of control, despite the fact that it has been ignored by the international community for far too long,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    “People are dying in the Central African Republic as we speak, and action is needed as a matter of utmost urgency. There is no time to delay.”

    November 08, 2013

    Expert analysis of new satellite imagery Amnesty International has obtained from the Central African Republic (CAR) reveals the shocking aftermath of recent human rights abuses amid spiralling violence by armed groups and security forces.  

    The images – some taken since the beginning of November – include evidence of 485 homes being torched in Bouca as well as internally displaced persons (IDPs) near the massing near the town of Bossangoa as people flee the ongoing violence.
    “These new images offer a glimpse of physical scarring to homes and civic life visible from space, but the true scale of the human impact of the crisis cannot be captured by satellite,” said Aster van Kregten, Deputy Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    “The national authorities and international community must act, as a matter of utmost urgency, to rein in the armed groups responsible for the widespread human rights abuses – which may amount to crimes against humanity – that have seized Central African Republic.”

    October 29, 2013

    The security forces in the Central African Republic (CAR) are out of control and urgent action is needed by the national authorities and the international community to establish law and order, Amnesty International said in a report released today.

    CAR: Human rights crisis spiralling out of control highlights the unprecedented scale of human rights violations committed across the country by Seleka, the coalition of armed groups, which launched an offensive against former President Francois Bozizé in early December 2012 and seized power in March 2013.

    “Seleka forces have attacked civilians across the country, executing and torturing civilians, indiscriminately shelling communities, raping women and forcefully conscripting children,” says Godfrey Byaruhanga, Amnesty International’s CAR researcher.

    “The level of hopelessness and despair has reached a new high as a result of these persistent, large scale human rights violations, which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.”


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