UN urges CAR mission to safeguard civilian lives

An internal inquiry for the United Nations recommends tactical changes to the UN mission in the Central African Republic to protect civilians, according to findings made available on Friday to AFP.
“(The mission) MINUSCA should overhaul its strategy to protect civilians to ensure that its operational response is better adapted,” said a statement by the independent panel set up by the UN department for peacekeeping operations.
MINUSCA troops and civilian staff, totalling some 14 000 in December, were first deployed in 2014 as clashes between ex-rebels and vigilante militias took on a religious dimension and both Muslim and Christian communities became targets.
International UN forces have been unable to halt the killings in a deeply poor country where armed groups contest the control of different regions and resources, with violence flaring up late in 2016.
The UN force itself is vulnerable to attack, at a cost of 29 lives since its deployment, said a separate report handed to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in December.
The MINUSCA inquiry was initiated by UN Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix, in the wake of an upsurge of bloodshed in the southeast of the CAR between May and August 2017.
In May, the town of Bangassou was attacked by “anti-balaka” militias – a force that emerged with the purported aim of defending Christian communities from mostly Muslim rebels – who killed many civilians.
In August, similar bloodshed took place at Gambo, about 100km from Bangassou, despite the presence of UN soldiers near both towns. In all, several dozen people were massacred.

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