UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] on Monday warned [press release] that the renewed clashes of anti-Balaka and ex-Seleka mark a critical time for Central African Republic (CAR) [JURIST news archive]. Ex-Seleka groups are supported by armed Muslim civilians, while anti-Balaka are backed by former national army soldiers. Serious violence has been reported in the Bangui neighborhoods of PK5, PK11, PK12 and PK13, causing many ex-Seleka and Muslim civilians to flee to the northern part of the country. Additionally, anti-Balaka have allegedly extended threats to international organizations that offer shelter to staff members' Muslim relatives. Violence has extended to affect civilians as well. Ex-Seleka members recently fled to the town of Bocaranga, where they opened fire on civilians, killing at least 10 people. Meanwhile, anti-Balaka reportedly killed 80 Muslim civilians and burned down approximately 4,000 houses. "We simply cannot let the social fabric of this country be torn apart. I call as a matter of utmost urgency upon the international community to strengthen peacekeeping efforts," stated Pillay. "There is a need to urgently restore security not only in Bangui but also in other parts of the country. Many lives are at stake."
There has been growing international concern over gross human rights violations in CAR since the Seleka rebel forces seized the nations capital [BBC backgrounder] in March of 2013. Last week, the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng [official websites] warned [JURIST report] that urgent national and international action is necessary to stop the violence in CAR. Also, the UN reported last week that more than 6,000 child soldiers may be involved [JURIST report] in the conflict in the CAR. Earlier this month, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons urged [JURIST report] the international community to assist the approximately 1 million individuals who have been internally displaced by the ongoing violence in CAR. In December UNICEF issued a report [JURIST report] detailing horrific attacks against children in CAR. Also in December, the UN Security Council voted unanimously [JURIST report] to authorize the deployment of peacekeepers to CAR. In November, Navi Pillay warned [JURIST report] that the continued violence between militias, rebels and government forces in CAR threatened to lead the country into renewed conflict. UN Sectetary General Ban Ki-moon condemned [JURIST report] the coup by the Seleka rebels last March and advocated for a "swift restoration of constitutional order."