|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Citing Atrocities, ‘Total Impunity’ in Central African Republic,
Secretary-General Warns against Repeat of Rwanda 20 Years Later
Following is the text of the address by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the National Transitional Council of the Central African Republic, in Bangui today:
Thank you for your welcome. Thank you for helping to lead your country to recovery and reconciliation.
I come to the Central African Republic at a time of great upheaval. There is a hole in the heart of Africa. Every day, I wake up thinking about your trials and troubles. Everywhere, I have called on leaders to step up their efforts. Some say this is a forgotten crisis. I am here to help make sure the world does not forget.
Today I visited people uprooted from their homes. Some are now living at the airport. Others are trapped in the city. I listened to their horror stories. I saw the dire conditions in which they live. Women, children, the elderly are sleeping in the open. Food is scarce. Malaria could spread. The rainy season will only make things worse.
The international community failed the people of Rwanda 20 years ago. And we are at risk of not doing enough for the people of the Central African Republic today. Atrocity crimes are being committed in this country. Ethno-religious cleansing is a reality. Most members of the Muslim minority have fled. Muslims and Christians have been placed in mortal danger simply because of who they are or what they believe.
The security of the State has been replaced by a state of anarchy. People have been lynched and decapitated. Sexual violence is on the rise. Gruesome acts have been committed while others cheered on the perpetrators. There has been total impunity, zero accountability. This must change.
I commend the African Union and French forces, MISCA [African-led International Support Mission to the Central African] and Sangaris, for making a difference. But they are under-resourced and overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the need.
That is why I have called for the immediate deployment of more troops and police. That is why I have proposed the transformation of MISCA into a UN peacekeeping operation. I hope that the Security Council will soon take this decision. That is why the United Nations has sent a Commission of Inquiry to help ensure accountability and prevent further human rights violations.
I recognize the European Union for its decision to deploy forces in the coming days. But I continue to call on the international community to do more, and act more quickly. You need security. You need the rule of law. You need a better future. The world agreed on our collective responsibility to protect a population when the State is unwilling or unable to do that basic job. The people of the Central African Republic should not have to run and die while the world decides whether to keep its promise. You have waited long enough.
For decades, the architecture of the State has been hollowed out through mismanagement, through corruption and through the neglect of the international community. The reality was there for all to see. Who has paid the price for this indifference? Ordinary people.
As I appeal to the world, I also appeal to the people of Central African Republic. From here I go to Rwanda to mark the twentieth commemoration of the Rwanda genocide. It is your responsibility as leaders to ensure that there no such anniversaries in this country.
Do not repeat the mistakes of the past; heed the lessons. The fate of your country is in your hands. The people of the Central African Republic should not be killing the people of the Central African Republic.
You are blessed with abundant resources and fertile land. You are a crossroads of cultures and peoples who have lived peacefully together for years. Christian and Muslim leaders are valiantly promoting tolerance and co-existence. Civil society organizations are courageously exposing abuses and seeking justice.
You have within you everything you need to succeed. The Central African Republic can turn itself around. This is not rhetoric. It can be a reality. I have seen it happen in Sierra Leone. I have seen it in Liberia. These countries also plunged to the very depths of wartime horror. But they rose with the commitment of their people and the involvement and investment of the international community. You can and will, too.
I am honoured to be standing with you and for you. A few weeks ago, one of your country’s religious leaders told me something that has haunted me ever since. He looked me in the eye and simply said: “We are afraid of tomorrow.” Let us commit to build a tomorrow of hope for the people of the Central African Republic; a tomorrow of peace, a tomorrow of reconciliation. That is the future I want for you and your children. That is the future you deserve. That is the future we can build.
If we do all that we can do, the Central African Republic will be all that it can be. Let us make it happen.
* *** *For information media • not an official record