UNITED NATIONS – The U.N. Security Council on Friday strongly condemned "the rise of incitement to ethnic and religious hatred and violence" in the Central African Republic and attacks by Boko Haram and the Islamic State extremist groups in the broader region.
A presidential statement approved by the council's 15 members urged armed groups in CAR "to cease all forms of violence and destabilizing activities, lay down their arms immediately and unconditionally, and engage constructively in the peace process."
It also condemned "manipulated hostility" to the U.N. peacekeeping force and other international actors in the country, which has seen deadly interreligious and intercommunal fighting since 2013 when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the capital and mainly Christian anti-Balaka militias fought back.
The presidential statement, covering the Central Africa region, said the council remains concerned at the security and humanitarian situation in the Lake Chad Basin.
The council said terrorist attacks by Boko Haram and IS "have caused large-scale and devastating loss of life, have had a devastating humanitarian impact including through the displacement of a large number of civilians in Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad and represent a threat to the stability and peace of West and Central Africa."
It noted "with particular concern the continuing use by Boko Haram of women and girls as suicide bombers" which it said "has created an atmosphere of suspicion towards them and made them targets of harassment and stigmatization in affected communities, and of arbitrary arrests by security forces."
The council urged countries being attacked to fight all forms of terrorism including the conditions that cause its spread.
The Security Council expressed concern that the Lord's Resistance Army continues to pose "a security risk to civilians," particularly in CAR and Congo.
It also expressed concern "at the link between illicit trafficking in wildlife and natural resources and financing of armed groups," including the LRA and Boko Haram.