RENEWED ATTACKS ON CIVILIANS AND MINUSCA IN SOUTHEASTERN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
Overnight from 12 to 13 May, members of a wide coalition, including anti-Balaka elements attacked civilian populations, targeting in particular Muslims, in the Tokoyo neighborhood of Bangassou in southeastern Central African Republic.
The Bangassou field office of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) was also attacked overnight by members of this coalition. The armed elements continue to systematically and deliberately attack the MINUSCA base with heavy weaponry to impede the peacekeepers from doing their extremely vital task of protecting the civilian population and to divert them from their primary vocation of saving lives.
Despite heavy fire against MINUSCA’s field office, peacekeepers attempted to respond to the attack in Tokoyo to protect civilians. In the firefight, which continued into the morning of 13 May, one peacekeeper of the Moroccan contingent died from gunshot injuries.
According to preliminary information, displaced civilians have fled to the mosque, the catholic church and the MSF hospital. At this time it is difficult to ascertain the humanitarian situation in Bangassou. However credible sources have confirmed an undetermined number of civilian casualties.
MINUSCA is sending reinforcements to Bangassou to secure the town and protect civilians. MINUSCA is also working with humanitarian partners to ensure the safety of displaced civilians.
MINUSCA vigorously condemns this senseless violence against its camp, and most importantly, against the civilian population in Bangassou, a city which has been spared from inter-communal attacks, even at the worst moments of the crisis in the Central African Republic. MINUSCA recalls that acts of violence on ethnic or religious grounds may constitute crimes under international law subject to prosecution in domestic or international courts.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of MINUSCA Parfait Onanga-Anyanga warns the coalition that “MINUSCA will do everything in its power together with the legitimate Central African authorities to arrest the perpetrators of these horrible acts. The international community will be relentless in apprehending the perpetrators of these crimes and all their commanders – I insist on their commanding officers – including some instigators who may be sponsoring these attacks from Bangui. Our actions will be relentless. The blood of peacekeepers and the blood of innocent Central Africans will not fall in vain in this country”, he added. “Justice, one day or another, and sooner rather than later, will lay its hand on all the perpetrators of these horrible acts.”