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U.N. says west of Central African Republic ‘cleansed’ of Muslims

A man walks out of a mosque near Kilometre 12

U.N. says west of Central African Republic ‘cleansed’ of Muslims

(Reuters) – Most Muslims have been driven out of the western half of conflict-torn Central African Republic, where thousands of civilians risk of being killed “right before our eyes,” the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said on Thursday.

The bleak warning came as the country’s foreign minister pleaded with the U.N. Security Council to urgently approve a U.N. peacekeeping force to stop the killing.

Widespread violence in the former French colony has claimed thousands of lives since Seleka, a coalition of mostly Muslim northern rebels, seized power a year ago. Attacks intensified in December when “anti-Balaka” militias drawn from the majority Christian population stepped up reprisals on Muslims.

“Since early December we have effectively witnessed a ‘cleansing’ of the majority of the Muslim population in western CAR,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres told a meeting of the 15-nation U.N. Security Council on the crisis in the impoverished and landlocked country.

“Tens of thousands of them (Muslims) have left the country, the second refugee outflow of the current crisis, and most of those remaining are under permanent threat,” he said.

The council is considering a U.N. proposal for a nearly 12,000-strong peacekeeping force to stop the country from sliding toward what a top U.N. rights official called “ethnic-religious cleansing.” If approved, the U.N. force would likely not be operational before late summer.

“Just last week, there were about 15,000 people trapped in 18 locations in western CAR, surrounded by anti-Balaka elements and at very high risk of attack,” Guterres said.

“International forces are present in some of these sites, but if more security is not made available immediately, many of these civilians risk being killed right before our eyes.”

Guterres said that until last year CAR “was largely a stranger to religious conflict.” But the worsening bloodshed has enabled armed groups to use religion as a pretext for violence.

“The demon of religious cleansing must be stopped – now,” he said. Guterres’ spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said western CAR was roughly half the country.


Central African Republic’s Foreign Minister Toussaint Kongo-Doudou told the council that his country’s survival depended on the urgent deployment of a U.N. force. U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous also spoke about the dire need for U.N. troops.

“The state has virtually no capacity to manage the massive array of threats it is facing,” Ladsous said. “There is no national army and the remnants of the police and gendarmerie lack the basic equipment and means to exercise their duties, while state administration is largely absent.”

The European Union is already deploying 1,000 soldiers to join 6,000 African and 2,000 French troops. Those forces have so far not been able to halt the killings and restore stability.

U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos told the council that there are more than 650,000 people internally displaced in CAR due to the conflict, over 232,000 in the capital Bangui alone. Nearly 300,000 people have fled to neighboring countries.

“The violence has led to the total breakdown of the state, locally and nationally,” she said.

Ladsous said he hoped to include as many of the African contingents as possible in a future U.N. force. U.N. officials have told Reuters on condition of anonymity that few of the African contingents are trained and equipped to U.N. standards.

Ladsous said the initial phase of a peacekeeping operation would have to focus on helping to establish security.

“This will require an initial surge of military personnel and corresponding military enablers,” he said. “Alongside this initial military surge, essential civilian capacities will be deployed, phased in gradually as the situation stabilizes.”

Ladsous said it will cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

The force will need to be approved by the Security Council. Diplomats said France will submit within the next few weeks a draft resolution to authorize a peacekeeping force in line with U.N. recommendations.

French Ambassador Gerard Araud said Paris supports Ladsous’ call for some 10,000 troops and 1,820 police but he predicted a “very difficult negotiation” on the resolution. Diplomats say the United States and Britain are especially concerned about costs due to national requirements for legislative approval.

But U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power voiced support for U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon’s call for a U.N. force in CAR. “We are prepared to work closely with partners starting immediately to move forward in developing a peacekeeping operation that can meet the challenges in the Central African Republic,” she said.

(Additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Editing by Tom Brown)

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  • Alyeth

    2 year old bullshit.

  • Steve

    Why no article about all the Jews, Christians, Hindus and atheist being driven out of muslim countries? After, all it is Christians that are the most persecuted religious group in the world, not muslims. Hypocrisy?

  • Mohamed Al Saadoon

    Q: There are some reports that, in terms of sequencing, the Seleka rebels will disarm first.

    No, we are starting the disarmament in Bangui, where there is only
    Seleka. The anti-Balaka are 10-15 km from Bangui, but we already got in
    contact with them to start the process of disarmament.
    On the 5 December the anti-Balaka were defeated and expelled from
    Bangui. So in Bangui there is only the Seleka. But of course we will
    disarm all the armed groups and all the militias. It was officially
    announced by the President of the French Republic in his speech in

    Scroll down for English

  • Rights

    Sadly, it has transmutated into YET AGAIN.

  • Mohamed Al Saadoon

    The French forcibly disarmed the Muslim seleka group while leaving the Anti-Balaka to roam free in the ensuing power vacuum.

  • Tighe McCandless

    “Tbh i don’t see any justification in blaming the west for whats happening in CAR today.”

    That wasn’t my point. My point was that this is how the Western world, at least the general public in each nation therein likely enough, is going to react. “Never again” was a promise made by many governments that signed onto the United Nations post-WWII; so far, the legacy of that promise is weak, at best.

    “…then the apathy shown by the African region themselves, or even the Muslim world is far worse.”

    The advantage that the Western world has – who would likely enough in any situation be providing the bulk of interventionist forces – has the wealth and manpower to spend towards a project like this. Much of Africa, even with the African Union, is developing economically and it has many of its own problems in addressing members’ internal issues (dictatorial governments, their own religious or ethnic tensions).

    As far as ‘the Muslim world’ is concerned, who would that be here? The only one that I could think of is Turkey. It is again an issue of power and projection.

  • Fox-News

    Tbh i don’t see any justification in blaming the west for whats happening in CAR today. If its their apathy (whatever limited definition was used), then the apathy shown by the African region themselves, or even the Muslim world is far worse.

  • Friend of Bosnia

    Actually since 1945 it has been “again and again”.

  • Friend of Bosnia

    Because among mankind evil outweighs the good. You know the path of evil is wider and seems easier, and there is, as in physics, the law of least resistance.

  • mindy1

    I don’t know :((

  • Tighe McCandless

    It was a twofer situation: they’re not Jews or Christians, so they don’t fall into the nonsensical umbrella of Judeo-Christian heritage – whatever this means, exactly – so they’re not ‘relateable’ to the mainstream Western public, especially since they’re Muslims.

    They also have the misfortune of being black Africans. The West believes the place to be a monolithic, strife-torn hellhole and this is just further proof of this preconceived notion. It will be met with apathy from respectable commentators at best, gloating and cheering from those of ill repute (though the latter will have varying reasons for doing so).

  • Someone From Somewhere

    War is horrible.

  • mindy1

    What happend to never again :'(

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