New York, Dec 13 2013 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is taking to the airwaves today to make a personal appeal to the citizens of the strife-torn Central African Republic (CAR) to end the bloodshed that is tearing their country apart with increasing inter-communal violence between Christians and Muslims, warning perpetrators that they will be held to account.
“I am deeply troubled by what is happening in your country and I want to speak to you personally,” he says in his broadcast, which comes as United Nations agencies reported that the humanitarian situation in the impoverished nation of 4.6 million people is deteriorating, with 600 people killed in the last week alone and 159,000 others driven from their homes in the capital, Bangui.
“Too many people are scared and the country is on the brink of ruin. I appeal to everyone to follow the path of peace. The bloodshed must stop. Do not allow the voices of hatred to sow division where none existed before. Whatever your faith or background, you share the same history and the same future. I call on religious and community leaders, Muslim and Christian, to act as messengers for peace.”
CAR has been thrown into turmoil since Séléka rebels launched attacks a year ago and forced President François Bozizé to flee in March. A transitional government has since been entrusted with restoring peace and paving the way for democratic elections, but armed clashes have erupted again, and in Bangui this week, Christians and Muslims launched reprisal attacks against each other in and around the city.
“I have a clear message to all who would commit atrocities and crimes against humanity,” said Mr. Ban. “The world is watching. You will be held to account. The United Nations is committed to helping your country recover from this crisis. You are not alone and we will not abandon you.”
Earlier this month the Security Council authorized an African-led and French-backed peacekeeping force to quell the spiralling violence.
“African and French troops are already on the ground and are making a difference,” Mr. Ban said. “More will come soon to help restore order. We are working to provide food, shelter and medicine. And we will stand by your side to build lasting peace and a better future for all.”