UN helping Central African Republic face ‘serious’ challenges, envoy says


The United Nations is sparing no effort to assist the Central African Republic (CAR) in confronting serious challenges, including poverty, corruption and impunity, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in that country told the Security Council yesterday.

Margaret Vogt, who heads the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA) told the 15-member body that, despite the gains made in recent years, the country still faces “serious” challenges.
“It is afflicted with extreme poverty, weak national institutions, corruption, a high rate of violent crime perpetrated by armed movements and brigands, human rights violations and impunity,” she stated, as she presented Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report on the activities of her office.
“The United Nations system spared no effort in providing timely and integrated support to the Government and people of the Central African Republic in addressing these challenges,” she added.

CAR completed legislative and presidential elections in January and March and last month signed a ceasefire agreement with the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP), the only armed group not to have signed the June 2008 Libreville Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

Ms. Vogt took note of the Government’s actions on political reform, poverty reduction, ceasefire agreements, and the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of ex-combatants, and urged continued international assistance for those efforts.

CAR, she said, “is at the crossroads of critical conflict zones, impacted by insecurity from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sudan, with the possibility of an upsurge of insecurity across the Sudanese border as the country grapples with security challenges that would necessarily attend the creation of the new state of South Sudan.”

South Sudan becomes independent from the rest of the country on Saturday, following a referendum staged in January.

Ms. Vogt highlighted what the Secretary-General called the “dire” situation of women and children in CAR and said she was planning to establish a protection unit within BINUCA to “help coordinate these issues.”

In a statement to the press after her briefing, Council members welcomed the Government’s commitment to fight corruption, its plans to increase DDR, the signing of the peace agreements, and the signing of a tripartite agreement between CAR, Chad and Sudan, but added that they were “concerned by the dire humanitarian situation.”

The members “underline the importance of continuing to ensure the security of refugees, internal displaced persons and humanitarian personnel before a political solution to security concerns in the region can make their voluntary return possible,” the statement added.
“They encourage the Central African authorities and the politico-military groups to play an active role in the prevention of human rights abuses.”

The UN withdrew its peacekeeping operation from CAR and Chad last year at the end of its mandate, and has since concentrated on civilian peacebuilding efforts, including promoting reconciliation, supporting the DDR process, electoral assistance, reforming the security sector and helping efforts to restore State authority throughout the country.