The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (S/2014/181) issued on 13 March 2014.
An already fragile security, human rights and humanitarian situation worsened during 2013, most notably with the attack on Bangui of 5 December by anti-balaka groups and elements of the former armed forces of the Central African Republic against ex-Séléka elements and the Transitional Government led by Michel Djotodia. At the end of the reporting period, human rights violations against civilians, rooted in sectarian conflict, had reached acute levels. At the request of my Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA), Babacar Gaye, my Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, my Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, and a representative from the office of my Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict travelled to Bangui and Bossangoa from 17 to 21 December 2013 after having carried out a joint technical-level assessment mission.
The delegation reported that numerous human rights violations had been committed and that there were clear indications that conflict-related sexual violence had been a main feature of attacks between March and December 2013. These crimes, which targeted civilian communities, were initially committed by ex-Séléka elements in acts described as “score settling”. More recent events indicate that sexual violence was being committed as part of the sectarian violence, as reports of rape during house-to-house search operations conducted by anti-balaka elements and by ex-Séléka and other armed groups emerged. During the reporting period, allegations emerged of abductions and forced marriages by ex-Séléka officers in Bangui, Bouar and other areas affected by the conflict, with credible reports of girls being kept in military camps and becoming pregnant as a result of sexual slavery. The United Nations also received information that female politicians and female relatives of public officials have been raped, kidnapped and sometimes tortured. In mining areas such as Obo, Zemio, Rafai and Nzako, and in the city of Bria, women and children have also reportedly been kidnapped, raped and killed by the Lord’s Resistance Army.
At least 146 pregnancies resulting from conflict-related sexual violence were recorded by United Nations partners during 2013. United Nations entities also noted an elevated risk of HIV infection and that, in the context of severe insecurity, civilians were less likely to risk travelling to seek assistance, contributing to high levels of miscarriage among women and girls and to untreated infections and disorders. The gender-based violence subcluster has developed a referral pathway, distributed post-exposure prophylaxis kits and trained service providers, mainly in camps for internally displaced persons. Few awareness-raising efforts have been carried out among vulnerable groups in the wake of the escalation of the violence, however, owing to funding and capacity constraints and the absence of an emergency preparedness plan. At present, medical and police authorities lack adequate training on caring for and protecting survivors of sexual violence, leaving women and girls vulnerable to stigmatization and reprisal. Survivors are also deterred from reporting because of the continuing presence of alleged perpetrators and the lack of a functional justice system. It is imperative that peacekeepers continue to be trained with a view to enhancing their capacity to prevent and respond to conflict-related sexual violence. In addition to building the capacity of BINUCA to monitor and report on human rights violations, including sexual violence, closer coordination between international actors is paramount. This should include the establishment of an integrated incident alert and coordinated response mechanism between the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic, Operation Sangaris and BINUCA.
I urge the transitional authorities in the Central African Republic to ensure that efforts to restore security and the rule of law specifically take into account the prevention of crimes of sexual violence and that any eventual ceasefire or peace agreement explicitly reflect sexual violence considerations, in line with the joint communiqué of the Government of the Central African Republic and the United Nations on the prevention of and response to conflict-related sexual violence of 12 December 2012.