Category Archives: Central Africa

Central African Republic – dozens killed in fighting despite peace agreement

DW/AllAfrica

Photo: The Observer
Uganda People’s Defence Force soldiers in Central African Republic.

Close to 50 people have been killed after fresh fighting broke out in a small town in the Central African Republic. On Monday, the government signed its latest peace deal with 13 armed groups.

Eyewitnesses described seeing dozens of bodies lying in the streets of Bria, a town that lies in the center of the violence-ravaged country, after clashes broke out at dawn on Tuesday. The Reuters news agency put the death toll at 50, citing the town’s mayor.

“I can say there are around 50 dead. There are 42 bodies that were taken to the hospital. There are also bodies in the neighborhoods that have not been picked up yet,” Mayor Maurice Belikoussou said.

Agence France-Presse quoted a humanitarian source as saying that more than 40 people were killed. Both agencies said dozens more were injured.

No escape from violence

The clashes broke out near a camp housing people who had been forced to flee previous bouts of violence, according to the country’s UN peacekeeping mission, MINUSCA.

The latest violence, between mostly-Muslim rebels and Christian anti-balaka fighters, came a day after the government of the Central African Republic signed a peace deal with 13 of 14 rival armed groups, following five days of negotiations in Rome.

The deal, brokered by a Roman Catholic peace group, called for an immediate ceasefire following more than five years of conflict, which began after a disputed election in 2011.

Monday’s peace deal also granted political representation to each faction in exchange for an end to attacks and blockades.

Group leader killed

One of the groups, the Popular Front for the Rebirth of the Central African Republic (FPRC) admitted it had taken part in Tuesday’s fighting.

“We signed the agreement, but we have to defend ourselves – we can’t allow an attack to happen without reacting,” said FPRC spokesman Djamil Babanani.

The latest fighting followed the killing of FPRC leader Hamad Issa in Bria on Saturday, several sources told AFP.

Last month, an upsurge in clashes between the rival factions left around 300 people dead, hundreds more wounded, and more than 10,000 others displaced.

Since 2013, thousands have died and a fifth of Central Africans have fled their homes after mainly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted President Francois Bozize, provoking a backlash from Christian anti-balaka militias.

Monday’s peace deal is just one of a series of agreements aimed at putting an end to the conflict. But despite being lauded by the office of President Faustin-Archange Touadera, many of his political opponents doubt whether the ceasefire will hold.

UN peacekeeping missions in Africa

DR Congo: UN’s largest mission

Since 1999, the UN has been trying to pacify the eastern region of the DR Congo. The mission known as MONUSCO has nearly 20,000 soldiers and an annual budget of $1.4 billion (1.3 billion euros). Despite being the largest and most expensive mission of the United Nations, violence in the country continues.

Darfur: Powerless against violence

UNAMID is a joint mission of the African Union and the UN in Sudan’s volatile Darfur region. Observers consider the mission a failure. “The UN Security Council should work harder

Sudan: Turning a blind eye to fighting?

Since the beginning of South Sudan’s civil war in 2013, nearly 4 million people have been displaced according to the UN. Some of them are being sheltered in UN compounds. But when clashes between government forces and rebels broke out in the capital Juba in July 2016, the blue helmets failed to effectively intervene. Later, the Kenyan UNMISS commander was sacked by former UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

Mali: The most dangerous UN mission in the world

UN peacekeepers in Mali are monitoring compliance with the peace agreement between the government and an alliance of Tuareg-led rebels. But Islamist terrorist groups such as AQIM continue to carry out attacks making MINUSMA one of the UN’s most dangerous military intervention in the world. Germany has deployed more than 700 soldiers as well as helicopters.

CAR: Sexual abuse scandals making headlines

MINUSCA, the UN’s mission in Central Africa Republic has not helped to improve the image of the United Nations in Africa. French troops have been accused of sexually abusing children by the Code Blue Campaign. Three years on, victims haven’t got any help from the UN. Since 2014, 10,000 soldiers and 1,800 police officers have been deployed. Violence in the country has receded but tensions remain.

Western Sahara: Hope for lasting peace

The UN mission in the West sahara known as MINURSO has been active since 1991. MINURSO is there to monitor the armistice between Morocco and the rebels of the “Frente Polisario” who are fighting for the independence of the Western Sahara. In 2016, Morocco which has occupied this territory since 1976, dismissed 84 MINURSO staff after being angered by a statement from the UN Secretary-General.

Ivory Coast: Peaceful end of a mission

The UN mission in Ivory Coast fulfilled its objectives on June 30, 2016 after 14 years. Since 2016, the troops have been gradually withdrawn. Former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said this was a “turning point for the United Nations and the Ivory Coast.” But only after the full withdrawal will it be clearly known whether or not the mission was successful on a long-term basis.

Liberia: Mission accomplished

The UN deployment in Liberia is – as in neighboring Ivory Coast – will soon be history. The soldiers are leaving by mid-2017. Since the end of the 14-year civil war, UNMIL has ensured stability in Liberia and helped build a functioning state. Liberia’s government now wants to provide security for itself. The country is still struggling with the consequences of a devastating Ebola epidemic.

Sudan: Ethiopians as peace promoters?

The UNISFA soldiers are patrolling the disputed oil-rich region of Abyei. Sudan and South Sudan both claim to be rightful owners of this territory located between the two countries. More than 4,000 blue helmets from Ethiopia are deployed. Ethiopia is the world’s second largest peace-keeping contributor. At the same time, the Ethiopian army is accused of human rights violations back home.

Somalia: Future model AU mission?

UN peacekeepers in Somalia are fighting under the leadership of the African Union in a mission known as AMISOM. The soldiers are in the Horn of African country to battle the al-Shabaab Islamists and bring stability to the war-torn nation. Ethiopia, Burundi, Djibouti, Kenya and Uganda, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria have all contributed their troops for AMISOM.

Author: Martina Schwikowski

mm/rc (AFP, Reuters)

 

DR Congo – UN reports mass killings, torture and mutilation in Kasai

Reuters

Militia mutilates toddlers, burns villages in central Congo – U.N.

By Tom Miles and Aaron Ross | GENEVA/KINSHASA

GENEVA/KINSHASA The U.N. rights chief said on Tuesday a militia linked to Democratic Republic of Congo’s government has committed a string of ethnically-motivated attacks in recent months, including cutting off toddlers’ limbs and stabbing pregnant women.

Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein called for an international investigation, saying the Kinshasa government had not done enough to look into the atrocities. Congo’s human rights minister dismissed that statement.

Zeid told the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva he had reports the Bana Mura militia was backing the government in its fight against insurgents in the central Kasai region, and had focused attacks on two ethnic groups, the Luba and Lulua.

“Refugees from multiple villages in the Kamonya territory indicated that the Bana Mura have in the past two months shot dead, hacked or burned to death, and mutilated, hundreds of villagers, as well as destroying entire villages,” Zeid said.

Congo’s government has been fighting insurgents in Kasai since last August, triggering fears of a wider conflict in the large central African country, which is a tinderbox of ethnic rivalry and competing claims over mineral resources.

Wars at the turn of the century killed millions and involved more than a half-dozen neighbouring countries.

Violence has increased since December, when President Joseph Kabila decided to stay in power beyond the end of his two-term mandate on the grounds that more time was needed to prepare for elections. Kasai is an opposition stronghold.

Congo’s Human Rights Minister Marie Ange Mushobekwa told the council her government was investigating the reports of atrocities and had nothing to hide, suggesting the accusations were politically motivated.

“Some countries … should not try to use the Human Rights Council – such a respectable institution – to settle scores with states whose leaders they don’t like,” she said.

MASS GRAVES

She dismissed earlier reports from Zeid’s team of the discovery of mass graves in the territory, saying one site had turned out to contain just a rifle and another a motorcycle.

“The sad truth is that they are looking for mass graves everywhere except where they may actually exist,” she told the council.

Zeid said U.N. investigators had seen children as young as two whose limbs had been chopped off and babies had machete wounds and severe burns.

“One two-month-old baby seen by my team had been hit by two bullets four hours after birth; the mother was also wounded. At least two pregnant women were sliced open and their foetuses mutilated,” he added.

He asked the rights council to authorise an international investigation as progress in Congolese investigations “has clearly been insufficient in view of the massive scale and horrific nature of the crimes that have taken place and, sadly, continue”.

Security forces and the Kamuina Nsapu militia have killed at least 3,383 people in Kasai since October, the Catholic church said on Tuesday, citing its own sources in the remote territory bordering Angola.

The report said the army destroyed 10 villages as it sought to stamp out an insurrection and accused the militia of killing hundreds of people, destroying four villages and attacking church property in a campaign to drive out government troops.

No one was immediately available to comment from the militia or the army, which has dismissed previous accusations of abuses. But the report will carry considerable weight in a country where about 40 percent of the population identifies as Catholic.

Fighting surged in Kasai in August when the army killed a chief who had been calling for central government forces to quit the region, saying it should be left to local leaders.

The U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva is due to decide this week whether to authorise an investigation into the Kasai violence. U.N. investigators say they have discovered 42 mass graves.

(Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg, editing by Ed Osmond)

DR Congo – thousands dead in Kasai sect violence and government response

BBC

 

He added that local authorities had denied the UN access to information about what was happening in the region. The UN has said it has evidence that hundreds of villagers from the Luba and Lulua ethnic groups have been killed.

The UN Human Rights Council is likely to vote this week on whether to mandate an independent investigation into the violence following what the group’s commissioner described as horrific atrocities committed in Kasai province.

The Congolese authorities have said they would reject it.

More than a million people have been displaced in the region in the last year and aid workers say the humanitarian response on the ground has so far been inadequate.

Violence erupted in the once peaceful Kasai region last August, after the death of a local leader during fighting with security forces.

Kiir appeals for global support for South Sudanese government

Sudan Tribune

separation

Canadian Minister of International cooperation Maria Claude Bibeau meets with young mothers at Al Sabbah Children's Hospital in Juba, on 19 June 2017 (Bibeau Photo)

(JUBA) –South Sudan President Salva Kiir Monday appealed for the support of the international community to the national unity government, saying much has been done without its support despite previous pledges to provide assistance at the signing of the peace agreement.

“As a country, we are grateful for all the help our people have received and the treatment they were given by countries to which they sought refuge. We appeal to the international community to keep it up. We appreciate and thank these countries and continue to ask support for sustainable peace because the South Sudanese do not wish to be a burden, but to make our success certain and our progress irreversible, we will need your steadfast support,” said President Kiir on Monday.

In a meeting with the visiting Canadian Minister of International Development, the head of state further spoke about the need for help to build the country’s economy and transforming the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army (SPLA) into a professional army.

“We need the support of the international community not only in helping us achieve peace and stability but also with experts to help train and advise our security forces,” President Kiir told Maria Claude Bibeau.

The president continued to add that his government has been asking the international community to help the government in the implementation of the peace agreement instead of continuing to advocate for views calling for sanctions and an arms embargo.

“We have been talking to our international friends and partners to remain committed to training, advising and assisting our institutions, especially our forces. There are still those who continue to advocate for war in the country, and we continue to go after those who are unwilling to end the conflict. This is no what the country needs,” explained President Kiir to the visiting Canadian Minister.

According to the Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Martin Elia Lomuro, President Kiir stressed that the government, which was formed amid difficult conditions experienced by the country, is tasked with bringing to order the internal situation and confronting the aggression.

The South Sudanese leader and the Canadian Minister of International Development and La Francophonie also discussed the existing cooperation between the two nations and how to move forward in strengthening their bilateral relations. The meeting was held at the State House.

Minister Bibeau meeting with President Kiir comes at the end of a four-day visit to South Sudan, ’’where she witnessed first-hand the extreme suffering of the South Sudanese people, the result of the severe food crisis affecting nearly half the country’s population and the ongoing conflict,’’ said a statement released by the Canadian government Monday.

She discussed with President Salva Kiir Mayardit and Riek Gai Kok, Minister of Health, the conflict and its devastating impact on civilians, most notably women and children. The visiting Minister also visited Jonglei region, where she observed the World Food Programme’s humanitarian relief operations and spoke with local civilians, especially women, affected by the crisis.

Bibeau announced $86 million in funding for four development projects that will respond to the basic needs of vulnerable South Sudanese people. Also, it includes $20 million to the WFP for food security.

After the meeting on Monday, Minister Lomuro, told the press, that the visit was aimed at seeing the progress of the projects that were sponsored by the Canadian government.

He added that the meeting was also to discuss the issues related to education, women and gender balance as well as the national dialogue process.

Meanwhile, Maria Claude Bibeau explained that the visit was to confirm the commitment from the Canadian government to the South Sudan government. She expressed the readiness of Canada to support humanitarian assistance, alongside the developmental projects.

Riak Gai Kok, Minister of Health outlined some of the areas in which the Canadian government would provide support in the health sector. Minister Kok said they had excellent bilateral discussions with the visiting Minister and applauded the support by the Canadian government in the health sector.

(ST)

Splintering of South Sudan conflict makes peace hard to find says UN

Reuters

Splintering of South Sudan war makes peace more elusive – United Nations

By David Lewis | JUBA

JUBA South Sudan’s civil war has mutated from a two-way fight between the president and his ousted former deputy to a fragmented conflict, making it harder to put it back together and peace more elusive, the top U.N. peacekeeper in the country said.

David Shearer, head of the 13,000-strong United Nations mission, welcomed signs that regional leaders were rejuvenating the peace process but said any initiative must include all factions, including that of former Vice President Riek Machar, and discourage the multiplication of armed groups.

South Sudan slipped into civil war in 2013, just two years after becoming independent from Khartoum, and some 4 million people – around one third of the population – have fled to neighbouring countries or to pockets of relative safety.

The conflict, ignited by a feud between President Salva Kiir and Machar, has resulted in ethnic cleansing between the leaders’ respective Dinka and Nuer communities.

However, an escalation of fighting since last July that forced Machar to flee the country a month later has seen clashes spread to previously unaffected areas.

“The situation now is somewhat different to what it was a year ago, when it was largely bipolar,” Shearer told Reuters in an interview late on Monday.

“We are seeing a lot more of the conflict being played out at a very local level and that is worrying because as it fractures it becomes more difficult to try to put the pieces back together again.”

Fighting has in particular affected the southern Equatoria regions, previously largely spared violence. The spike in fighting resulted in South Sudan having the fastest growing refugee population in the world as civilians poured into Uganda.

Tens of thousands of civilians have fled to camps within South Sudan that are ringed by U.N. troops.

Peacekeepers have frequently been criticised for failing to do enough to protect civilians but the U.N. leadership says troops are obstructed and restricted by the army.

A combination of red tape and unwillingness meant it took eight months for the first of 4,000 U.N. reinforcements approved to start deploying after last year’s fighting.

PLACES AT THE TABLE

Analysts and diplomats say regional peace efforts have stumbled for much of the last year as Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya adopted a more bilateral approach to the conflict.

But Shearer was optimistic that a recent meeting of regional leaders in Ethiopia would result in a more collective approach to the crisis.

“There was a sense that they want to rejuvenate the peace agreement and start moving that forward. That collective effort hasn’t been apparent for the last year,” he said.

Machar remains in exile in South Africa, excluded from the process.

Shearer said while regional leaders were reluctant to return to the “old formula” of insisting on a potentially explosive face-to-face between Kiir and Machar, there was recognition that Machar’s camp needed to be represented in talks and he could too, further down the line.

The U.N. chief said there was a delicate balance between a rejuvenated and broadened push for peace and creating incentives to add to the plethora of armed groups.

“What we don’t want to do is to encourage a greater degree of conflict or arming of groups in order to be relevant and have a place at the table,” he warned.

(Editing by Michael Perry)

Central African Republic – catholic church group arranges peace deal between combatants

Reuters

The government of the Central African Republic and 13 of the 14 armed groups in the country on Monday signed an accord aimed at ending an ethic and religious conflict that has killed thousands of people.

The deal, which was mediated by the Roman Catholic Sant’ Egidio peace group, calls for an immediate end to hostilities and the recognition of legitimate authorities following the last elections.

The country has been plagued by inter-religious and inter-communal conflict since 2013, when the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power, prompting reprisals from the anti-Balaka militia, many of whose fighters are nominally Christian.

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(Reporting by Philip Pullella, Editing by Crispian Balmer)

Dr Congo – Lord’s Resistance Army attacks increase as US-backed force pulls out

Reuters

Lord’s Resistance Army steps up Congo attacks as U.S.-backed force pulls out – U.N.

By Tom Miles | GENEVA

GENEVA The outlawed Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has stepped up attacks in Democratic Republic of Congo close to the South Sudanese border as a U.S.-supported regional task force pulls out, the U.N. humanitarian office said in a report on Friday.

Forty rebels from the group, which is led by Joseph Kony, kidnapped 61 civilians in a June 7 raid in the Tanganyika mining area near the Garamba National Park in Haut-Uele province, the report said, citing local civil society and aid workers.

The civilians were released after being forced to move goods and food looted by the LRA, and an unknown number of villagers subsequently fled to the nearby town of Gangala Nabodio.

There had been no LRA-related displacement for more than five years in the province, the U.N. said. But aid workers were now worried about the safety of people across a vast area.

“Since the end of the mission of the Regional Task Force (RTF), which was mandated to eliminate the LRA, the security situation has seriously deteriorated in the Garamba National Park,” the U.N. report said.

One international non-governmental organisation involved in protecting civilians had cancelled its missions this week due to insecurity, it said.

The U.N. has reported a surge this year in LRA abductions of girls and boys around the ages of 12 or 13, as well as elephant poaching in Garamba National Park. A clash with Congolese armed forces in March killed one army officer and three LRA fighters.

Kony’s rebels battled Ugandan forces for about two decades, becoming notorious for their brutality and for kidnapping children for use as fighters and sex slaves.

In about 2005, they were ejected from bases in northern Uganda and what is now South Sudan, and retreated to an area of jungle straddling the borders of South Sudan, Congo and Central African Republic, where the task force continued to track them.

The United States said in March it was switching to a broader African security mission and removing U.S. special forces specifically focused on fighting the LRA, declaring “success” in reducing the group to under 100 active members.

The African Union asked the United Nations to take on the hunt for the LRA and the U.N. Special Representative for Central Africa, Francois Lounceny Fall, has said the LRA may thrive after the U.S.-backed force leaves.

“I am concerned about the impact of this withdrawal as it will create a security vacuum that may be exploited by the LRA and other armed groups operating in the region,” he told the U.N. Security Council this week.

Uganda’s military began withdrawing from Central African Republic in April, saying it had accomplished its mission – although Kony, who has been indicted by the Hague-based International Criminal Court, remained at large.

(Editing by Louise Ireland)