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By Godfrey Olukya 2-8-2013

A UN senior official has said that the situation in Central Africa republic is appalling and there is urgent need for help.

United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonović has warned that state institutions throughout the Central Africa Republic remain are close to collapsing and urged the international community not to abandon the conflict-afflicted nation.

“The relatively inclusive transitional government which has been set up remains very weak. 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,” Šimonović said in a statement at the end of a four-day visit to the CAR.

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

“The extent of the looting and destruction I witnessed is shocking. When I visited Bambari’s courtroom, I only found an empty room with broken doors, no windows and a thick layer of remnants of archives and registries covering the floor. State institutions, including justice, in the Central African Republic look today exactly like this
courtroom,” Šimonović said. “How will this country hold fair elections if all its archives and civil registries are being destroyed?” he asked.

“The Central African Republic has been marked by decades of instability and fighting. Under Bozizé’s regime, the predominantly Muslim northern part of the country has been neglected and its population discriminated against. Numerous human rights violations were committed, including enforced disappearances, summary executions,
arbitrary detentions and torture. Unfortunately the country has reached an unprecedented level of violence and destruction since the Seleka coalition forces from the north of the country launched their offensive last December,” he said.

While noting that the total number of victims remains unknown, he visited a site of a likely mass grave in Bambari that still has to be investigated. Members of the local community said that victims were summarily executed but could not confirm the identity of perpetrators.

The UN official also expressed his concern about the high rate of sexual violence in the country. “In Bambari hospital, I met an 18-year-old woman who was four months pregnant when she was raped and had a miscarriage. I also met with a woman who was shot in the arm because she refused to give the little money she had earned at the market,” Šimonović said.

“The chaotic situation in the country is affecting all aspects of people’s daily lives,” he noted. “State schools have remained closed since December 2012 and less than 20% of medical facilities are operational,” he said. Afraid of killings and rapes, many people
continue to hide in the bush, living on roots.

“Rapidly spreading malaria and other diseases, high maternal mortality and malnutrition are likely to kill many more than the conflict related violence itself,” warned Šimonović. “In some areas, less than 20% of the crops have been planted and severe food shortages can be expected for early 2014,” he said.

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