CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Up to 100 civilians shot and burnt alive as UN peacekeepers leave posts in Alindao

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27 Dec 2018
[International Secretariat]

The United Nations must carry out a thorough investigation into UN peacekeeping troops’ response to a recent attack that killed as many as 100 civilians in a displaced persons camp in the Central African Republic, Amnesty International said today in a new report.

On 15 November, a Seleka off-shoot called the Union for Peace in the Central African Republic attacked the displaced persons camp. They fired mortars and rocket-propelled grenades at the site, and then looted and burned the majority of the displaced persons’ dwellings.

Amnesty International interviewed 20 survivors, many of whom described how Mauritanian MINUSCA peacekeepers failed to respond to the attack.

By the time the attackers finished plundering and burning the site toward the end of the day, it was estimated that nearly 100 civilians had been killed and around 18,000 displaced civilians had been forced to flee again.

The dead included many women, children, older people, and people with disabilities. Older people and people with disabilities were particularly vulnerable, and were killed in large numbers when they were unable to run away to escape the attack.

According to multiple eyewitnesses, UN peacekeepers did not engage an attack by an armed group but instead retreated in a vehicle to their central base, leaving thousands of civilians unprotected.

An immediate and impartial inquiry must focus, in particular, on whether the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) failed in its duty to protect the lives of more than 18,000 people residing at the site.

“While UN troops were badly outnumbered by armed attackers, their actions—both before and during the attack—raise serious questions as to whether they lived up to their mandate to protect civilians.”

“The United Nations needs to assess whether the massacre at Alindao was preventable, and, most importantly, what it can do to ensure that future violent attacks on civilians are deterred or contained,” said Joanne Mariner.

Given a robust mandate to protect civilians, MINUSCA forces have maintained a long-standing presence at the IDP site in Alindao.

Numerous former residents of the site told Amnesty International that the Mauritanian peacekeepers, based there since about May, failed to properly control the area and prevent the entry of arms and armed fighters. They rarely carried out patrols, and delegated much of their day-to-day duties to a small “security team” of anti-balaka fighters.

MINUSCA denied that its forces allowed the anti-balaka to operate at the camp, pointing out that the camp is huge, making control over it extremely difficult. However, the actions of the Mauritanian troops showed that they not only knew of the anti-balaka fighters’ presence, they authorized it.

“United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres should set up a thorough and timely independent investigation into what led to the killings in Alindao. This will help the UN better fulfill its mandate of protecting the Central African Republic’s civilians,” said Joanne Mariner.

“The report of the investigation should be made public, and its recommendations should lead to concrete action.”

In addition, MINUSCA should ensure that adequate military forces with appropriate equipment carry out robust patrols in high-risk areas of the country.

14 December 2018

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