UN Peacekeeping Helicopter Crashes In C.Africa, Three Dead

 

Three people were killed and a fourth was injured when a combat helicopter used by United Nations peacekeepers in the Central African Republic crashed on landing, the UN force said on Friday.

“It is with immense sorrow that I have learned of the crash of a Senegalese combat helicopter as it was landing at Bouar, leading to three deaths and one injured,” the head of the MINUSCA mission, Mankeur Ndiaye, said on Twitter.

Twenty-Three Militiamen Killed In Fresh Central Africa Clash

 

At least 23 militiamen were killed Saturday in fighting in Central African Republic between rival groups who signed a peace deal in February, said the UN mission in the country MINUSCA.

Fierce clashes between militias in recent months has raised concerns about whether the peace accord aimed at ending years of violence in CAR will hold.

The country’s president, Faustin-Archange Touadera, this month told AFP that the agreement was “quite strong” — but MINUSCA on Saturday said fighting had broken out in Birao, a city close to the Sudanese border.

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The clashes were between the Popular Front for the Renaissance of the Central African Republic (FPRC) and the Movement of Central African Freedom Fighters for Justice (MLCJ).

The rival militias also fought in the city earlier this month.

“The situation remains tense but there is no more fighting,” MINUSCA spokesman Vladimir Monteiro said.

“A MINUSCA Blue Helmet was also slightly wounded,” he added, without specifying the nationality.

A Zambian contingent of the multinational force is stationed in the area.

The peace accord with 14 militias vying for control of the country’s gold, diamond and other resources came after years of conflict following the ousting of Touadera’s predecessor Francois Bozize in 2013.

Thousands of people have been killed and about a fifth of the 4.5 million population has been displaced in the last six years.

Touadera has been struggling to prove he can convince the militias, which collectively control more than three-quarters of the territory, to lay down their arms.

Panel Recommends Closure Of Four Chinese Gold Mines In Central Africa

central african republic, violence

 

Four Chinese-run gold mines should be closed in the Central African Republic because of pollution threatening public health, a parliamentary panel said in a report published on Saturday.

“Ecological disaster,” “polluted river,” “public health threatened,” were some of the phrases used in the report.

“Gold mining by the Chinese firms at Bozoum is not profitable for the state and harmful to the population and the environment,” the commission found after its investigation into mining in the northern town.

“The nature of the ecological disaster discovered onsite justifies the immediate, unconditional halt to these activities,” the report found.

A local missionary, Father Aurelio Gazzera, has published a video showing the state of the river and named the four firms concerned as Tian Xian, Tian Run, Meng and Mao.

Members of the commission spent four days in Bozoum a month ago in response to “multiple complaints from the population.”

There, they found a badly polluted River Ouham, shorn of several aquatic species following the excavation of its riverbed.

They discovered that a rising death rate in fishing villages as well as shrinking access to clean drinking water.

The commission also turned up suspicions of accounting irregularities during its investigation.

“Average production is between 400 grams (1 lb) to 1 kilo per site per month. This situation seems unacceptable with regard to daily production costs,” the report says.

The investigators also voiced fears that the country’s “resources are being squandered with the complicity of certain ministry of mines officials.”

The CAR is rich in natural resources but riven by a conflict which has forced around one in four of its 4.5 million population to flee their homes.

Under those circumstances, exploitation of the country’s natural resources is difficult to monitor effectively given that the state only has partial control of its own territory.

AFP

Two AFP Journalists Beaten, Detained In Central African Republic

 

Security forces in the Central African Republic beat and detained two journalists working for French news wire Agence France-Presse (AFP) covering a banned opposition protest in the capital Bangui, the reporters said Sunday.

Charles Bouessel, 28, and Florent Vergnes, 30, said they were held for more than six hours and questioned three times on Saturday after having been manhandled by members of the Central Office for the Suppression of Banditry (OCRB).

The pair also had their equipment confiscated and a camera smashed up.

“The protest was going well, the (police) let us film and clearly saw that we were not part of the rally,” Bouessel said Sunday.

“Then the protesters were quickly dispersed. Trucks carrying OCRB members arrived and we heard live bullets being fired”, he added.

The reporters said they were prevented from leaving the area despite telling the security forces that they were accredited journalists allowed to work in CAR.

The OCRB “seemed furious that we were filming the scene and charged at us,” Bouessel said.

“One of them grabbed my camera and smashed it on the ground. I put my hands up in the air but received a first slap to the head. My backpack was snatched from me and thrown to the ground. When I asked to get them back… I received more punches.”

Vergnes, meanwhile, said he was “grabbed by the throat”, slapped and “pistol-whipped in the back with a Kalashnikov”.

Security forces also seized his bag, camera and mobile phone during the arrest.

“I had a nosebleed and my back and jaw hurt,” he said, adding he saw a doctor in Bangui on Sunday.

Justice Minister Flavien Mbata said the two journalists had been arrested because they were present at a protest banned by the police.

“We demanded yesterday that they be released, which has happened,” Mbata told AFP, adding further steps would be determined “once we have all the details”.

Paris-based media rights campaigners Reporters Without Borders denounced the treatment of the journalists.

“This bad treatment must not go unpunished,” it said on its Twitter account.

Central African Republic Reaches Deal On New Govt

 

The government of the Central African Republic and armed groups that had joined it in a peace deal have reached an agreement to form an “inclusive government,” the African Union said Wednesday.

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“The Central African authorities and the 14 armed groups (that) signed the peace accord negotiated in early February in Khartoum agreed to an ‘inclusive government’ in Addis Ababa,” the AU said.

Pope Prays For Victims Of Central Africa Massacre

FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis leads a holy mass on September 25, 2018 at the Liberty Square in Tallinn, Estonia on the third day of his Baltic tour.

 

Pope Francis on Sunday prayed for peace in the war-ravaged Central African Republic, where two priests were killed in ethnic unrest last week.

“I learned with sadness the news of the massacre two days ago in a camp for the displaced in the Central African Republic, where two priests were also killed,” the pope said during Angelus prayers at the Vatican.

“Let us pray for the dead and the wounded and for all violence to end in this beloved country so much in need of peace,” he said on the World Day of the Poor.

Sectarian clashes in the central town of Alindao claimed at least 37 lives last week, including those of two priests.

The United Nations said that some 20,000 people were affected by the violence. “Thousands” were forced to flee.

The bloodbath began on Thursday when Christian militiamen killed Muslims, prompting revenge attacks.

A church was also burnt.

One of the world’s poorest nations despite a rich supply of diamonds and uranium, CAR has struggled to recover from a 2013 civil war that erupted when President Francois Bozize, a Christian, was overthrown by mainly Muslim Seleka rebels.

AFP

UN Peacekeeper Killed In C.Africa Ambush

UN Confirms 25 Dead In Central African Republic Violence
FILE PHOTO

A peacekeeper with the UN mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) was killed and three others wounded Sunday in an ambush, authorities said.

The soldier, who was Eqytian, died in an attack carried out by “armed elements affiliated with the anti-Balaka movement,” the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSCA said.

Anti-Balaka were nominally Christian militias organised in response to the bloody sectarian violence unleashed by Muslim-majority Seleka rebels in 2013.

Mired in poverty but rich in minerals, CAR has been battered by a three-year conflict between the rival militias that began after then-president Francois Bozize was overthrown.

During the attack on Sunday near the southern town of Gambo, three other peacekeepers were wounded and five attackers were “neutralised”, MINUSCA said.

The attack happened while a MINUSCA convoy was making a run to reinforce a base.

The soldier’s death raises to 13 the number of peacekeepers killed in attacks in CAR this year.

AFP

UN Agrees To Send 900 Extra Peacekeepers To C. Africa

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The UN Security Council on Wednesday unanimously agreed to beef up the UN mission in the Central African Republic with 900 extra troops and step up measures to prevent sex abuse by peacekeepers.

The council voted 15-0 to extend the mandate of the MINUSCA force for a year following negotiations between France, which drafted the resolution, and the United States, the biggest financial contributor to UN peacekeeping.

Despite its repeated calls for cuts to peacekeeping, the United States agreed to a request for the 900 extra troops from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who has warned of a risk of ethnic cleansing.

Guterres argued that the MINUSCA force had reached its limit, struggling to cope with growing violence in the impoverished African country since late last year.

The council set a new ceiling for troops to 11,650, up from 10,750. An additional 2,080 police are authorised to serve in MINUSCA.

“The Security Council cannot afford to take the risk of allowing the CAR to relapse into a crisis in which it was mired,” said French Ambassador Francois Delattre following the vote.

The Central African Republic has been struggling to return to stability since an explosion of bloodshed after the 2013 overthrow of longtime leader Francois Bozize by the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel alliance.

France intervened militarily to push out the Seleka, but the country remains plagued by violence pitting groups competing for control of resources and areas of influence.

Part of the instability has been fueled by the withdrawal in April of Ugandan troops combating the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army in the Central African Republic, with backing from US special forces.

Delattre told reporters that France and the United States took a pragmatic approach to reach agreement on the troop increase.

“With our American Friends, the more the discussions are based on a pragmatic approach, about life-and-death issues, about effects on the ground, the better,” he said.

– All necessary measures –

Deployed in 2014, MINUSCA was given a strong mandate to protect civilians but as fighting has surged in the interior of the country, the mission has been overstretched.

MINUSCA has been hit by a string of sex abuse allegations against peacekeepers that led to the firing of the mission commander in 2015 and the repatriation of contingents which faced repeated accusations.

The council requested in the resolution that Guterres take “all necessary measures” to ensure that MINUSCA forces comply with the zero-tolerance policy, and it calls for regular reports to the council on rape allegations.

On Monday, the United Nations appointed an independent panel to investigate whether MINUSCA peacekeepers failed to protect civilians when violence broke out in the southeast from May to August this year.

The 900 extra peacekeepers are likely to include highly-mobile units, possibly from Brazil, which could rapidly deploy to hotspots.

The resolution also backed the redeployment of the re-trained Central African FACA army forces to the interior of the country, with support from MINUSCA.

The FACA were swept up in the fighting in 2013, siding with insurgents from all factions, but have since undergone training with help from the European Union.

AFP

UNICEF: Boko Haram Recruited Over 2,000 Child Soldiers In 2016

UNICEF, Boko Haram, Child SoldiersOver 2000 child soldiers were recruited and used in combat by the terrorist group, Boko Haram in 2016.

These statistics were provided on Tuesday by the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF), on the anniversary of the Paris commitments to end the use of children in conflict.

UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake, said the exact data on the number of children used in armed conflict was difficult to ascertain because of the unlawful nature of the exercise.

“For instance, since 2013 an estimated 17,000 children have been recruited in South Sudan and up to 10,000 have been recruited in the Central African Republic (CAR).

“Similarly, nearly 2,000 children were recruited by Boko Haram in Nigeria and neighbouring countries last year alone, and there have been nearly 1,500 cases of child recruitment in Yemen since the conflict escalated in March 2015.

“We cannot give up the fight to end child recruitment,” the UNICEF chief said.

Lake offered estimates that tens of thousands under the age of 18 were being used in conflicts worldwide.

“It is not only about looking back at what has been accomplished; but looking forward to the work that remains to be done to support the children of war,” he said.

End To Child Recruitment

Adopted 10 years ago, the Paris commitments, together with the Paris Principles and Guidelines, lay out guidance for protecting children from recruitment and use by armed forces or armed groups.

The Paris Agreement also assists the release of child soldiers and their reintegration, with other vulnerable children affected by armed conflict in their communities.

“There has also been progress: since it was adopted, the number of countries endorsing the Paris commitments has nearly doubled from 58 countries in 2007 to 105 at present, signalling an increasing global commitment to end the use of children in conflict.

“Globally, more than 65,000 children have been released from armed forces and armed groups, including 20,000 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“Nearly 9,000 in the Central African Republic; and over 1,600 children in Chad. But more needs to be done,” the UNICEF chief said.

According to him, seeking to build on the current momentum, the Paris International Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Children in Armed Conflicts has appealed for unconditional release of all children without exception, and putting an end to child recruitment.

“It is also calling for increased resources to help reintegrate and educate children who have been released, and urgent action to protect internally displaced children, child refugees and migrants.

“As long as children are still affected by the fighting, we cannot give up the fight for the children,” Lake added.

I’ll Ensure Budget 2017 Is Not Padded – President Buhari

I'll Ensure Budget 2017 Is Not Padded – President BuhariPresident Muhammadu Buhari has vowed that the distortions that happened to Budget 2016, in which series of projects and figures were injected into the financial document will not happen to budge 2017. 

The President received members of the Governance Support Group (GSG), led by Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, at State House, Abuja on Friday and made the promise.

The President said: “I am waiting for the 2017 Budget to be brought to us in Council. Any sign of padding anywhere, I will remove it.”

President Buhari reiterated that he had been in government since 1975, variously as governor, oil minister, head of state, and Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), “and never did I hear the word ‘padding’ till the 2016 Budget.”

He promised that such would never happen again under his watch.

The President said that the government stands by its tripod campaign promises of securing the country, reviving the economy, and fighting corruption, but lamented that some people are deliberately turning blind eyes to prevailing realities in the country.

“They don’t want to reflect on the situation in which we are, economically. They want to live the same way; they simply want business as usual,” he said.

On violence that attend rerun elections in the country, President Buhari stated:

“I agonized over the elections in Kogi, Bayelsa and Rivers states. We should have passed the stage in which people are beheaded, and killed because of who occupies certain offices. If we can’t guarantee decent elections, then we have no business being around. Edo State election was good, and I expect Ondo State election to be better.”

Speaking on the anti-corruption cases before the courts, the President said he believed the cleansing currently going on “will lead to a better judiciary”.

“When people are sentenced, Nigerians will believe that we are serious.”

President Buhari equally told his guests that the progress being made in agriculture and exploitation of solid minerals “gives a lot of hope”.

He added: “Our grains go up to Central African Republic, to Burkina Faso, but they can’t buy all the grains harvested this year. And next season should be even better.

“We will focus on other products like cocoa, palm oil, palm kernel, along with the grains. We can start exporting rice in 18 months, and we are getting fertilizers and pesticides in readiness for next year.”

Speaking on behalf of members of GSG, Hon. Nwajiuba said the government had succeeded to a large extent on the security and anti-corruption fronts, adding that the group was positive that the economy would soon experience a turnaround, “as the government is working very hard in that direction.”

The group said the biggest constituency of the President was the poor and lowly, and thus recommended what it calls “a social re-armament of the poor.”

Seven African Countries Sign MoU With Morocco On Palm-oil Production

muhammadu-buhari-at-climate-change-meeting-in-moroccoSeven African countries on Wednesday, signed a joint declaration at the Morocco conference on climate change, pledging to protect their tropical forests, by shifting to sustainable palm oil production.

The seven African states that put pen to paper, representing over 250 million hectares of tropical forest for palm oil producers are Ghana, Liberia, Congo republic, Sierra Leone, Ivory coast, Central African Republic and the DRC.

The morocco deal already has the support from some of world’s largest palm oil producers, buyers and traders.

Palm oil fuels a 50 billion dollar global industry of food and food proudcts, and is projected to reach 88 billion dollars by the year 2022.

Africa is said to be the world’s next growth spot for palm oil production, with Nigeria seeing earnings growth of local producers, as foreign exchange ban on oil palm products spur domestic capacity.

Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, was among other world leaders in attendance of the conference which spanned between November 14 and 16, 2016.

The convention on Climate Change also known as COP-22, also sought to discuss key issues, including Nigeria’s unwavering commitment to implementing the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and policy actions, aimed at tackling climate change through environmental sustainable efforts.

UN Confirms 25 Dead In Central African Republic Violence

UN Confirms 25 Dead In Central African Republic ViolenceThe two days of fighting in Central African Republic has led to the death of 25 persons.

The number of casualties was disclosed in a statement on Saturday by the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission.

“Clashes between elements of the anti-Balaka and ex-Seleka caused 15 deaths and a number of others wounded.

“Six gendarmes and four civilians lost their lives on Friday morning in an ambush on the Bambari-Grimari road,” the Minusca mission said.

The UN mission appealed to all armed groups to end “the cycle of attack and reprisal”.

The Central African Republic has been wracked by conflict along religious and ethnic lines since 2013.