Let me start by thanking SRSG Ndiaye for his insightful briefing. Many thanks also to the A3+1 for keeping the situation in the Central African Republic high on our agenda by requesting this briefing. Let me also welcome Minster for Foreign Affairs Baipo-Temon and thank her for her presence with us today.
I would like to address three issues today: first, the political and security situation. Second, the worsening humanitarian situation. And third, the issue of MINUSCA’s capacities.
President, Norway is deeply concerned about the rapidly deteriorating security situation in the Central African Republic. The news on Monday of yet another two casualties, this time near Bangassou, brings the total of Blue Helmets killed by enemy attacks since December to seven. This is completely unacceptable. We condemn, in the strongest terms, all attacks by armed groups against MINUSCA. We offer our condolences to the families of the victims, to MINUSCA, and to the governments and people of Rwanda, Burundi, Gabon and Morocco.
As we just heard in the briefing, the Constitutional Court confirmed the election results. We call on all parties to now respect the Court’s decision and to resolve any remaining disputes peacefully. Armed groups should immediately end hostilities. And an inclusive dialogue should be resumed.
Further, women’s full, equal and meaningful participation is essential for sustainable peace. We encourage the CAR authorities to engage all parties, including the opposition, to find a way forward to reinvigorate the ‘Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation’. We call on MINUSCA to continue to help creating the necessary space for a resumption of dialogue.
We now encourage H.E. President Touadéra to step up efforts, to show statesmanship and to be a President for all CAR citizens. Madame Minister, if I may, Norway would be most interested in hearing more information from you about President Touadéra and the CAR government’s vision for peace, and democratic development in the country.
President, the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic is cause of great concern. According to recent reports, at least 100 000 people have fled their homes due to violence. And since our discussions last week, the number of people fleeing to neighbouring countries has doubled to nearly 60 000. 58 000 more have been internally displaced within CAR. This, in a country that already has some of the highest humanitarian needs per capita of any state in the world. We call on all parties to do everything in their power to protect civilians, and uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law. We call also for safe and unhindered humanitarian access to all people in need of protection and humanitarian assistance.
According to the independent expert on CAR of the UN Human Rights Council, armed groups continue to commit human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law. This includes obstruction of the election. In his latest report, the independent expert refers to widespread violence against civilians and the recruitment and use of children by the so called Coalition des Patriotes pour le Changement (CPC).
Norway condemns these violations, particularly those affecting children. Persisting conflict-related sexual violence must also come to an end.
We also call for an immediate end to attacks against humanitarian workers. We urge the CAR authorities to investigate and prosecute these crimes and call on MINUSCA to provide support. Accountability is fundamental for any sustainable peace process.
President, the recent reports about desertions by the Central African armed forces, and the extreme violence of the past few weeks have rightly raised questions about MINUSCA’s capacities. Norway stands ready to discuss, together with the other members of this Council, how MINUSCA can be further strengthened. The safety of peacekeepers is an absolute priority and we need to ensure the right configuration for the Mission, given the current circumstances.
President, let me conclude by commending the efforts by the African Union and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) to promote peace in CAR in close partnership with the UN and MINUSCA. Allow me also to express Norway’s full support for SRSG Ndiaye and MINUSCA, and our deep appreciation for the UN’s efforts in these very challenging conditions.