Africa

Central Africans living 'in constant fear': UN

  • People watch rebels of the Seleka coalition after they arrested men suspected of looting in a neighbourhood of Bangui on March 26, 2013. Four months after a violent coup, the people of the Central African Republic are "living in a constant fear" as rule of law has collapsed, a top UN rights official says.

    People watch rebels of the Seleka coalition after they arrested men suspected of looting in a neighbourhood of Bangui on March 26, 2013. Four months after a violent coup, the people of the Central African Republic are "living in a constant fear" as rule of law has collapsed, a top UN rights official says.  (AFP/File)

  • Members of the Multinational Force of Central Africa (FOMAC) patrol in Bangui on July 20, 2013. UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic outlined a state of chaos in the troubled nation, joining several others in urging the international community not to forget the plight of the country.

    Members of the Multinational Force of Central Africa (FOMAC) patrol in Bangui on July 20, 2013. UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic outlined a state of chaos in the troubled nation, joining several others in urging the international community not to forget the plight of the country.  (AFP/File)

Four months after a violent coup, the people of the Central African Republic are "living in a constant fear" as rule of law has collapsed, a top UN rights official said Thursday

UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic outlined a state of chaos in the troubled nation, joining several others in urging the international community not to forget the plight of the country.

"The relatively inclusive transitional government which has been set up remains very weak," Simonovic said at the end of a four-day visit to the country.

"While the situation in Bangui has slightly improved, the state simply does not exist outside of the capital and there is no rule of law."

The Seleka rebel coalition seized power in the chronically unstable former French colony on March 24, and their leader Michel Djotodia came to head a transitional government under international pressure.

His fighters took power where they could, and weeks of looting and destruction followed.

"Beyond Bangui, there is no police, no justice system and no social services. Security is virtually non-existent and people live in constant fear," said Simonovic.

"I was particularly alarmed by the high number of Seleka members in the streets who do not receive any salary and set up check points, asking for money or just looting houses."

Noting "shocking" scenes of looting and destruction, he said schools had been closed since December 2012, less than 20 percent of medical facilities were open and sexual violence had soared.

"I am extremely concerned by the lack of attention given to the humanitarian and human rights situation in the Central Africa Republic, both by the media and the international community," he said.

Kristalina Georgieva, European commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis response has also urged the world not to forget the country as the situation deteriorated.

"How is it possible for an entire country to become forgotten?" she wrote in an editorial piece in the Guardian newspaper after visiting in July.

"This is the question I heard time and again from people living in mortal fear, working without pay in hospitals without electricity or medicines, without food for their malnourished children, many of them without hope. 'How did the world forget about us?'"

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