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UN RIGHTS EXPERT CALLS FOR URGENT PROTECTION OF DISPLACED PERSONS IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

24 September 2013

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, Chaloka Beyani, today called for the urgent protection of internally displaced persons in the Central African Republic.

“I urge the Transitional Government of the Central African Republic to do its utmost to ensure the protection of internally displaced persons and to facilitate the humanitarian response,” Mr. Beyani said.  “The situation of all those displaced who hide in remote areas, including in the bush, in poor sanitary conditions and without access to basic services or clean services is extremely worrying.”

More than four months after Seleka rebels seized power, there is virtually no security in the country, which is seeing widespread human rights violations and abuses, including attacks on the population, massive internal displacement, rape and looting.

As of early September, more than 260,000 people were internally displaced in Central African Republic, including more than 100,000 children.  Most displaced children are not able to attend lessons as schools have been destroyed, closed or occupied by armed groups.  Displaced children are also reported to be particularly vulnerable to forced recruitment by armed groups.

The Special Rapporteur noted that a recent United Nations mission to Paoua, in the north western province of Ouham-Pendé, reported abandoned villages and massive displacement.  Following a series of recent attacks by unidentified armed groups, 30 people were reported to have been killed in the province and thousands forcibly displaced.  On 7 September, two humanitarian workers were killed by armed men in the province, while 30,000 villagers fled into the forest.

Mr. Beyani stressed that another worrying element is the widespread and systematic destruction of public registries, including birth certificates and court records.  The lack of such records will have a particularly negative impact on internally displaced persons, whose personal documentation may be destroyed when their communities are attacked or lost during their flight to safety.

The Special Rapporteur also expressed deep gratitude for the commitment by United Nations agencies and non-governmental organization partners in the Central African Republic to assist and protect the internally displaced in this very difficult and dangerous operating environment.

“The work of the United Nations and international and national civil society for internally displaced persons is indispensable to protect lives,” he stressed.  “I welcome the interactive dialogue that the Human Rights Council is going to hold on the situation of Central African Republic on Wednesday 25 September.”

“I call on the Human Rights Council to address the situation of internally displaced peoples in the country and to make concrete recommendations to that effect,” Mr. Beyani said.  “The government should honour the country’s obligations as per the African Union Convention* for the Protection and Assistance of internally displaced persons in Africa (the Kampala Convention) ratified by the Central African Republic in 2010 to ensure that internally displaced persons are protected and supported until they reach durable solutions.”

Chaloka Beyani, professor of international law at the London School of Economics, was appointed as Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons by the Human Rights Council in September 2010. Learn more about the mandate and work of the Special Rapporteur, visit:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IDPersons/Pages/IDPersonsIndex.aspx

UN Human Rights, country page – Central African Republic:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/CFIndex.aspx

Check the Kampala Convention:
http://www.unhcr.org/4ae9bede9.html

For more information and media requests, please contact Marta Franco (+41 22 917 9268 / mfranco@ohchr.org) or write to idp@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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For use of the information media; not an official record

HR13/252E