As the Central African Republic’s government and the 14 militia groups that control most of the country meet for peace talks, the country’s bishops called on the United Nations to lift the arms embargo imposed on the nation.
Violent groups continue to procure arms illegally, and the only effect of the embargo is that the army has been substantially weakened, the bishops said in a statement at the end of their January plenary meeting in the capital, Bangui.
The UN imposed the embargo in 2013, and each year it has been extended. It is due to expire today, 31st January.
“The state is absent in vast zones” of the country “which are now under the control of armed groups. These armed groups repeatedly commit inhumane acts of violence and carry out grave violations of human rights,” the bishops said.
The country has faced interreligious and intercommunal fighting since 2013. Thousands of people have been killed and one-quarter of the Central African Republic’s population of 4.5 million have fled their homes. Violence has intensified and spread in recent months.
Picture: Peruvian soldiers assigned to the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic attend their farewell ceremony in early January 2017 in Lima. (CNS photo/German Falcon, EPA).