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Rights group urges Security Council to address crisis in CAR

Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] on Friday urged [press release] members of the UN Security Council, including France, the US and UK, to throw their full weight behind proposals to address the crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR). UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] will present his assessment report on the possibility of transforming the African-led peacekeeping force in the CAR into a UN peacekeeping mission before March 5. "It is urgent that the Security Council authorizes this UN peacekeeping operation," said AI Africa Director of Research and Advocacy Netsanet Belay. "They must be given a robust mandate to protect civilians." After successive missions to CAR, the AI has revealed that the African led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA) is under-resourced and ill equipped. Further, MISCA's poor coordination with French troops has failed to end the killings of civilians and the ethnic cleansing of the Muslim community in the country. "We witnessed peacekeeping soldiers being deployed to areas where they had no idea of what was going on, or even where they were. Their morale was low, their equipment poor, and many complained that they have not been paid for months." said Belay. "The Security Council must take decisive action. This is a matter of the greatest urgency—every day counts. Hundreds of thousands of people are suffering. Saving peoples lives must prevail over politics."

International concern continues to grow in the wake of reports of gross human rights violations in CAR since the Seleka rebel forces seized the nations capital last March. Last week UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] prompted [JURIST report] CAR leaders to remember their legal obligations and stressed that they are personally accountable for human rights violations. In February AI urged the international community [JURIST report] to take immediate and effective action to halt the spread of sectarian violence and "ethnic cleansing" within the western part of the CAR. In January the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng warned [JURIST report] that urgent national and international action is necessary to stop the violence in CAR. Also in January the UN reported that more than 6,000 child soldiers may be involved [JURIST report] in the conflict in the CAR. Earlier in January 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 the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) [official website] issued a report [JURIST report] detailing horrific attacks against children in CAR.

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