Central African Republic facing precarious situation - UN report

The situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) remains extremely precarious, marked by deteriorating humanitarian conditions, repeated violations of human rights, a culture of impunity, a lack of dialogue and tolerance between opposing groups, and persistent poverty and corruption, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warns today.

In his latest report on the CAR and the work of the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in that country (BONUCA), Mr. Ban calls on the authorities in the CAR to step up their efforts to kick-start intensive political dialogue and push the peace process forward.

"Recent encouraging prospects can be sustained only with continued international cooperation, in a climate of peace," he writes, noting that recent consultations by the Panel of the Wise, a prominent civil society group, indicate that most key political groups - including rebels - want dialogue.

But some opposition parties are sceptical that the Government of President François Bozizé is genuinely committed to holding dialogue given he has said the security situation must first improve and the talks cannot call into question the legitimacy of institutions set up since elections held in 2005.

Earlier this year, the Government reached peace deals with some of the rebel groups in the northwest and northeast, where most of the fighting has taken place in recent years.

But Mr. Ban stresses that while these accords are welcome, "only through a comprehensive and inclusive dialogue can solid progress towards restoring sustainable stability in the country and attracting investors be made."

Condemning repeated attacks on humanitarian workers, the Secretary-General says the Government needs to improve its measures to ensure that aid workers receive adequate protection. The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) within the CAR is estimated at more than 200,000, while the country is also home to refugees from the neighbouring Darfur region of Sudan.

But Mr. Ban adds that the economy has made some improvements, with a 4.7 per cent growth rate in 2007, up from 3.8 per cent the previous year, thanks partly to World Bank and International Monetary Fund-backed poverty reduction programmes.